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Full text of "Shaking it up: challenging veteran teachers to change: a dissertation"

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 
Lesley University, Sherrill Library 



http://www.archive.org/details/shakingitupchallOOevey 



LUDCKE LIBRARY 
Lesley University 
30 Mellen Street 
Cambridge. MA 02138-2790 



FOR REFERENCE 

Do Not Take From This Room 



SHAKING IT UP: 
CHALLENGING VETERAN TEACHERS TO CHANGE 



A DISSERTATION 
Submitted by 



EVELYN BAKER LANG 



In partial fulflllment of the requirements 

for the degree of 

Doctor of Philosophy 



LESLEY UNIVERSITY 

May 19 

2003 



Dedication 



In loving memory of my parents who taught me the value of learning 

With gratitude to my husband, Ron whose confidence in me, positive attitude and 
patience never waned, despite the lengthy process and finstrating obstacles. 

To my daughters and their families, Debby, John, Ilanna, Rachel and Jeffrey and Carry, 
Joe, Rosella, Isabel and Marcus whose encouragement inspired me to continue. Thank 
you to Joe for his computer expertise and willingness to help. 

I am blessed to have their love and support. 



Abstract 

My research, conducted at a 600 student middle school, explored the conditions and 
factors needed by veteran teachers to learn about and implement educational change, 
either mandated or teacher-initiated. Qualitative research methods used included in- 
depth interviews of veteran teachers and observations in classrooms, cluster meetings and 
professional development workshops. 

Five factors appeared to facilitate the change effort for this group of teachers. They are: 
An understanding that the change process is a challenge in itself 
A school culture that is conducive to change 
A school principal who supports, inspires and encourages teachers 
Appropriate professional development is offered to teachers 
Teachers are actively involved in educational change 

The veteran teachers studied were stimulated by change, regularly sought ways to 
improve, aspired to teach their students to love learning and were committed to helping 
their students succeed. 

Recommendations are offered for the important stakeholders in the school reform effort; 
teachers, principals, parents, the school district and schools of education. 



Table of Contents 

Chapter One: Introduction 2 

Motivation for study 2 

Why educational change is needed 6 

Teacher training collaborative 7 

Context for study 9 

Description of the town 9 

Organization of the school district 10 

Description of the Middle School 11 

Organization of the Middle School 12 

Overview of chapters 13 

Chapter Two: Literature Review 16 

National calls for educational change 16 

Understanding the factors that affect educational change 20 

Classroom diversity 20 

Parent and community relationships 20 
The importance of sufficient time for change 22 

The impact of change on perceptions of professional competence 23 

Understanding veteran teachers as adults: adult developmental psychology 25 
Age Theory 26 

Stage Theory 27 

Relational models 28 

Adult developmental psychology applied to veteran teachers 29 

Understanding teachers as adult learners: Adult Learning Theory 30 

Adult Learning Theory applied to professional development 3 1 

Understanding teachers in a professional context 32 

As human resources 32 

In a flat career with a pre-determined salary scale 33 

In role of academic research within schools 34 

The influence of school culture 35 

The role of other adults in the school 37 

The influence of the Principal 37 

The influence of Colleagues 38 

Summary 39 



Chapter Three: Qualitative Research Methods 42 

Purpose of the study 42 

Characteristics of qualitative research 43 

Methods of qualitative Study 45 

Generalizability, rehabihty, vahdity 46 

Gaining entry 48 

Research population 50 

Interviews with teachers and administrators 5 1 

Observations 53 

Data analysis 54 

Personal biases 54 

Summary 55 



Chapter Four: Analysis of Data 56 

Voices of veteran teachers in a professional context 57 

Introduction to the participants in the study 57 

Role of teacher' s place of residence 5 8 

Level of certification 59 

Involvement in the school beyond teaching 61 

Recognition by the school and the administration 62 

Gratification in the teaching career 63 

The impact of educational change on veteran teachers 64 

Teacher interest in change 64 

Learning about the school's goals and plan for change 66 

Identification of school goals 67 

Cluster system, a school structure for change 69 

How to improve the clusters 70 

How to use the clusters as a vehicle for change 72 

Two approaches to school change 74 

Mandated change 75 

Teacher initiated change 79 

Overwhelming change schedule 80 

We/They attitude 83 

The influence of adult developmental psychology 84 

Middle adulthood; Relational theory and generativity 84 

The influence of adult learning theory 85 

Teacher training for change 85 

Effective professional development 86 

Additional sources of professional development 90 

Supports for teachers during the learning process 9 1 



Student teachers as a source of learning 92 

Summary 93 

Chapter Five: Conclusions and Recommendations 95 

Conclusions 95 

Conditions and factors that promote and facilitate educational change 95 

The change process is challenge in itself 96 

A school culture that is conducive to change 98 

A school principal who supports, inspires and encourages teachers 102 
Appropriate professional development for teachers as adult learners 102 

A role for teachers in educational change 106 

Recommendations 108 

For important stakeholder groups 108 

Teachers 109 

Principals 110 

Parents 111 

School district 1 12 

Schools of education 114 

For mid-Ufe career change 115 

For on-going study 116 



Append 
Append 
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ces; 

X A: Questionnaire for teachers at the ^Middle School 120 

X B: Pilot Study 1 121 

X C: Pilot Study 2 122 

X D: Interview questions 3 123 

X E: Second interview questions 124 

X F: Interview questions for curriculum coordinator 125 

X G; Interview questions for principal 126 

X H: Second interview questions for curriculum coordinator 127 

X I: Second interview questions for principal 128 

X J: Dissertation study timeline 129 

X K: Middle school interviewees 130 



Bibliography 131 



Chapter One: Introduction 

Motivation for Study 

I am a teacher. During the course of my career, I taught students in grades 

Kindergarten to 9 and also at the graduate school level, I have been a science teacher, 
middle school administrator, graduate school of education faculty member, curriculum 
coordinator, pre-service teacher supervisor and a University liaison. In each of these 
positions, I had the privilege of working with numerous talented teachers who were 
devoted to their students. When necessary, they adapted their teaching practice to 
accommodate their students' needs. They were available to offer academic attention 
and/or emotional support and kindness to their students. These teachers were motivated 
to share their love of learning and/or of their specific subject matter with students. 

When I was a classroom science teacher, I was cognizant of my own need, from time 
to time, to alter both my teaching methods and content, and the feelings it evoked in me. 
When I made the transition from classroom teaching to school administration, I became 
aware of the responses of other teachers to change. As an administrator, I had a practical 
reason for studying how to implement change effectively as new programs and 
techniques were made available that might serve our students more effectively. When I 
made the next leap to teaching pre-service graduate level teachers, I read the professional 
literature of educational change in depth to be aware of programs that were found to be 
effective in other settings. I studied the strategies and activities that were used in schools 
to connect educational change theory and school practice in order to learn what was most 
efficacious in implementing new programs. Recently, I became involved as a University 
liaison to a middle school during its implementation of multiple school change initiatives. 
As I learned more about the process, I became interested in what was the most effective 



method to move the teachers in the direction of making changes that would meet the 
school's goals for improving learning for all students. 

One of my early experiences with the upheaval caused by "shaking it up", that is, 
preparing a change for the school, came when I was a middle school administrator. My 
plan was to add an advisory system to provide each student with at least one teacher with 
whom s/he could forge a close relationship. The transition from the self-contained 
classrooms in most K through five classes to a departmental system at the middle school 
leaves many students feeling abandoned, without a home base. I hoped that the strength 
of the advisor/advisee relationship would enable the teacher-advisor to guide the young 
student, both academically and socially, through the turbulent early adolescent years. At 
first, the veteran teachers resisted my proposal because they felt inadequate to the task 
and did not want to risk failure with their students, especially in an area in which they 
were not trained. After they participated in professional development sessions and did 
some role playing, tried several of the suggested activities with students and started to 
experience success, the teachers became more positive about the program and trying new 
techniques. Each successfial experience with students resulted in greater willingness to 
continue. There were many anticipated and unanticipated consequences that had to be 
accommodated; therefore, it took years for the initiative to become part of the structure 
and culture of the school. 

Before the implementation of the new program, I changed the time schedule to include 
a short period for advisory meetings each day. I hired a psychologist during the summer 
preceding implementation to provide professional development and training for the 
teachers on the subject of adolescent behavior and guidance. A committee of teachers 



met regularly to compile a resource manual of various activities and projects for the 
advisors to use with their students, or to trigger their own thinking. Despite the 
preparatory activities and training, some of the teachers complained about the additional 
responsibility outside of their usual teaching assignments. To correct any inequities, I 
reconfigured the ratio between teaching hours and teacher duties and the compensation 
for additional responsibilities. Teachers expressed a fear of failure if the advisory 
meetings or relationships were weak. They feared that a weak relationship would have a 
negative influence on their teaching reputation, and consequently on their students' 
classroom behavior and level of respect. They had never been asked to establish a 
personal mentoring relationship with students, either in or out of the classroom. 

Before the advisory program was started, I had observed teacher interactions with 
students and was convinced that most of the teachers had very positive relationships with 
their students and therefore, would make outstanding advisors and that students would 
benefit from a closer relationships with an advisor. I also hoped that some of the 
academic and emotional problems of students could be addressed more successflally in a 
small, close group. Knowing their students better would enable the teachers to make 
modifications in their teaching practices to meet the newly discovered needs of their 
students. I felt that the benefits of the program would strengthen the academic and 
emotional services for all the students. The process of implementation was a lengthy one, 
with both planned and unplanned benefits and challenges. 

After the first year, students expressed positive thoughts about the strength and 
helpfulness of their relationship with their advisor. After the second year, parents called 
the school to praise the program. By the fourth year, I do not think I could have removed 



the program because all the teachers were so invested in responding to the needs of their 
students within the advisor structure. The program expanded as the teachers identified 
the needs of both their students and parents that could be addressed within the advisory 
structure. 

Despite the fact that the changes implemented in the middle school where I was most 
recently a liaison were different from the advisory program, the teacher responses to the 
implementation of new programs in this new setting seemed similar to my earlier 
experience with a change that was introduced to veteran teachers. I wondered what the 
similarities were that seemed to lead to difficulty and resistance when a new strategy or a 
new structure was introduced into a school community. In connecting these past and 
current experiences, I started to frame my research question for this study. 

Although I was concerned that I would bring my strong feelings and biases to the new 
situation, in the course of this research I became the neutral participant observer. I was 
not at all responsible for the implementation of the initiatives, but was able to look at 
larger issues as they affected the many stakeholders in the school, as well as to the day- 
to-day responses of teachers in classrooms. My earlier experience was useful in 
understanding the stress and excitement occasioned by a new way of doing things. I 
became involved with the teachers and interviewed them to learn about their feelings and 
responses to change. I also learned about the role of the culture of the school and of the 
principal in the change effort. As part of my study, I observed teachers in their 
discipline-based classrooms, during professional development workshops and while 
working in their clusters. 



I embarked on the journey of this study to answer my many questions about veteran 
teachers. This dissertation is about middle school veteran teachers and the conditions that 
motivate them to adopt a change in what or how they teach and what supports they need 
to learn and implement a change initiative that the school or district mandates. However, 
another category of changes that are initiated by individual staff members surfaced during 
my interviews and these will be discussed as well. My research question is; What are the 
conditions and factors that contribute to veteran teachers' acceptance, participation in and 
implementation of change, whether mandated or teacher-initiated? 
Why Educational Change Is Needed 

As part of the present national school reform effort, states, local boards of education 
and school administrators are attempting to change the ways teachers teach in order to 
improve student achievement and performance in various subject areas. The reasons for 
making significant changes in both curriculum and instruction are complex. Our society 
has changed markedly with regard to the racial and ethnic diversity of its population and 
family structures are vastly different today than in the past. 

In 1983, A Nation at Risk was published to focus on the problems in American 
education. In 1991, America 2000 was published with an enumeration of six goals to 
address and improve American education. In 1996, the National Commission on 
Teaching & America's Future reinforced the crucial role of the teacher and proposed that, 
within a decade, every student must have a qualified and caring teacher. Most recently, 
in 2002, President Bush set the goal of "leaving no child behind". 

Although the uhimate goal of educational change is to improve teaching and learning 
for all students, in the United States there is no national curriculum, despite various 



efforts to design one. This lack results in the fact that each state and/or district responds 
independently and drafts standards, writes curricula, implements new practices and holds 
students and teachers accountable for their performance. Thus, there are enormous 
differences in approach and a wide range of options in the search to find an appropriate 
and effective path to school improvement. 

A great deal has been written in both the popular press and even in some of the 
professional education literature that is critical of teacher response, or lack of response, to 
the current educational reform efforts. As stated in the chapters that follow, there is 
resistance to change in teaching, and most other professions as well. In this study, I 
interviewed veteran teachers to learn about their attitude to change, and what motivated 
and supported them in their individual change efforts. I observed some of the lengthy 
training sessions provided for teachers to learn new strategies, interviewed the teachers 
about how they adapted the new lessons and then, how they introduced them in the 
classroom. 
Teacher Training Collaborative 

I carried out my research at a middle school that was involved in a collaborative 
partnership between the schools in the town and four area University Schools of 
Education. The mission of the project was to improve education for children and to 
advance the quality of teacher education. The goals of the Collaborative include a 
redesign of teacher education by having many student teachers within the school, 
presenting informative seminars, establishing a supportive framework for them and 
giving them experience with the schools' goal of aligning curriculum, instruction, and 
performance assessment with state standards. 



8 

The Schools of Education worked with the town to develop ways of improving the 
experiences of their pre-service teaching interns, more commonly called student teachers. 
The goal of the collaboration was to build a community of support, inquiry and action 
among its members, namely within the seminars and by their participation in professional 
development offered by the school. Issues of mutual interest were addressed at monthly 
meetings that included the University representatives and liaisons, the Superintendent and 
Assistant Superintendent of Schools of the town, the individual school principals and the 
on-site coordinators. The on-site coordinators were appointed by each participating 
school to meet and interview the student teachers and to match them with cooperating 
teachers. During the period of the student teaching placement at the school, the on-site 
coordinator presented weekly seminars to inform them of the services available at the 
school, to discuss classroom teaching and management issues, to forge a support 
community among them and, thus, to enhance their student teaching experience. 

In my role as university liaison to a partnership public school, I assisted with the 
process by preparing and delivering some of the seminars, by observing and meeting with 
the interns to support their efforts and also by meeting with the cooperating teachers to 
discuss ways of enhancing the learning experiences of the student teachers. In the 
process, I also met with cluster leaders and school administrators. As a former science 
teacher, I specifically met with science teachers to discuss curriculum, as well as teaching 
and assessment approaches. I met with other university liaisons to determine how the 
university could coordinate their courses, services and resources with the schools. 



The town has supported the Collaborative, is present at all its meetings and is a 
guiding force in writing grant proposals, supporting conferences, seminars and various 
activities to enrich the experiences of the pre-service and in-service teachers. 
Context for Study 

Description of the Town 

To set the context for my research study, I will describe the town in which the middle 
school is located, the organization of the school district and the school in which my 
research was done. 

In order to study veteran teachers and mandated change, I selected a school system 
located in the northeastern part of the United States, close to a large city. The town has 
an area of about 4. 1 square miles with a population of around 34,000 people. It has 
convenient access to major highways and rail and commuter bus lines that provide easy 
transportation to the state's major airport as well as to many company headquarters and 
manufacturing plants. The location provides its residents with varied possibilities for 
employment. The town is governed by a Town Council and Town Manager form of 
government and states as one of its goals, "to improve services provided to all of its 
citizens and to provide a stimulus for business development (Business Directory & 
Community Guide for , 2001). 

The town provides many amenities to its residents, such as shopping malls, swimming 
pools, golf and tennis clubs, skating rinks, athletic clubs and eleven parks. It is ethnically 
diverse and takes pride in its diversity, with cultural ties to the Armenian, Irish, Italian, 
Canadian and Greek and communities. The Chamber of Commerce states, "Not at all 



10 

marked by tensions, the richness of ethnic heritage is a hallmark of activities, social and 
civic, in the town." 

The 1990 census reported that there were more than 14,000 families in the town with 
41% earning more than $50,000 annually and 9.7% reporting an annual income of less 
than $10,000. Of the housing units available in the town, 47% are owner occupied units 
and 53% are renter units. 

Organization of the School District 

There are three elementary schools, one middle school and one high school in the 
town, governed by a School Committee comprised of seven members. The 
Superintendent oversees the operation of all the public schools, the Community 
Education Program and programming for students with special needs. There are 
approximately 2,600 students in the town. The School budget for FY '01 was $22 
million, including state aid. The town is concerned with education and states as one of its 
goals to ".. .foster academic success for every student and prepare each to be a lifelong 
learner in this increasingly diverse and challenging world." 

To fiirther exemplify its commitment to education, in October 1990, the School 

Committee adopted the following Mission Statement for the public schools: 

The Public Schools, in a new and active partnership with all members of 

the community, will strive to ensure that every student and family values 
education as a lifelong endeavor and that every student has the intellectual skills 
and knowledge, interpersonal skills and sense of social responsibility to be 
exceptionally well prepared for the opportunities and challenges of living in an 
information rich, culturally diverse, ever-changing world. 

The School Committee approved a five-year strategic plan, presently in its fourth year, 

and a professional development program for its teachers to enhance educational 

opportunities for all the students in the community. Its goal is to give students "the 



11 

support and encouragement needed to succeed academically, develop self confidence, 
and respect differences within their community." 

The Chamber of Commerce states, "[The town] is proud to employ a talented and 
committed teaching staff Each year, a wide variety of professional development 
opportunities are offered to encourage advancing studies and updating skills and 
knowledge. Teacher collaboration and participation in decision-making are encouraged 
and supported by release time." 

The school's faculty is immersed in professional development. During the summer 
preceding each school year, the superintendent meets with the individual building 
principals and teacher volunteers who serve on the Professional Development Committee 
to determine the goals and action plan for each school. The principal of each school then 
meets with the school's leadership group to plan specific events for their own school to 
enable them to accomplish the goals for the year. 

The superintendent's office prepares a "large white loose-leaf notebook" describing 
the seminars, workshops and courses that will be offered to the teachers. The notebook is 
distributed to all the teachers at the beginning of the school year to keep them informed 
of the goals and action plan of each school building. The overall plan for the year is 
presented at the opening September faculty meetings. Teachers are informed regularly 
regarding professional development plans during school Early Release Days, department 
meetings and cluster meetings. 

Description of the Middle School 

The school building is clean, neat, bright and colorflil, with student art work on 
display in the corridors. Although there are lockers along all the walls, no student 



12 

belongings are strewn along the floor. The building looks cared for and respected. The 
middle school, renovated in 1999, includes grades six through eight. The renovation 
design integrated the new section of the building with the old, which was also 
reflirbished. Each of the three grades has a section of the building for its classrooms, thus 
all students have a short walk to their next class and convenient access to their lockers. 
The school's rules determine specific periods when students may go to their lockers so 
that traffic in the corridors moves smoothly. Teachers have designed "bell work" to 
make it important for students to arrive at class promptly to begin the work of the day. 
Teachers stand outside their rooms during class period changes to greet their incoming 
students and move any stragglers along. 

Organization of the Middle School 
The Middle School educates about 625 students who are organized into a system of 
clusters for each grade. Students are divided into two teams per grade; each team is 
called a "cluster". The students in each cluster travel to classes together and are taught 
by the same group of subject matter teachers, in the areas of language arts, math, social 
studies, science and foreign language. Each cluster has a teacher leader who facilitates 
daily teacher meetings and schedules the regular tasks of its members (completion of 
report cards, scheduling of parent conferences, special events and trips). The cluster 
leaders meet weekly with the principal and other members of the leadership team 
(including the assistant principal and the two curriculum coordinators) to discuss the 
initiatives they are working on, issues that teachers are pleased with and troublesome 
items that are of concern to teachers. Cluster leaders then communicate the discussions, 
responses and decisions of the leadership team to the teacher members of the cluster. In 



13 

this way, continuous communication exists between teachers and administration; one 
group is aware of the thinking, motives, and responses of the other. The communication 
topics include planning of school events, staffing, new initiatives, training courses, and 
includes both positive and negative feedback. In this way, there is an attempt to 
eliminate frustrations that result from a lack of information. 

The principal and assistant principal of the middle school were both new during the 
2001-2002 school year. The previous administrators left at the end of the preceding 
school year to accept positions of leadership at schools in other towns. The new 
principal, a known and trusted leader, was reassigned from another school in town, and 
appointed to be acting principal for the year. In March, she was appointed to the position 
of permanent principal. 
Overview of Chapters 

In order to present my research work, this thesis is divided into five chapters. A brief 
preview of the content of chapters two to five follows. 

Chapter 2 is a literature review. It includes a discussion of why educational change is 
needed, and the challenges, difficuhies and effect on veteran teachers who are responsible 
for implementing the change initiatives. Additionally, to understand veteran teachers, the 
subjects used in my study, this chapter includes a discussion of adult developmental 
psychology and aduh learning theory. Furthermore, the typical teaching career is 
discussed, with an emphasis on two important influences, that of the culture of the school 
and the principal. The chapter concludes by explaining the relationship of adult 
developmental psychology and aduh learning theory to professional development. I 
focus on professional development because typically it is the main instrument that school 



14 

systems use to promote and implement change as well as to provide support for teachers 
during the difficult process of educational change. 

Chapter 3 describes the design, methodology and implementation of the study, 
composed of two interviews with each often teachers and two administrators and 
observations in teachers' classrooms, during cluster meetings and during professional 
development workshops. I chose qualitative research methods and describe the processes 
used to gather my data. I show why qualitative methods are appropriate to explore my 
research question. 

Chapter 4 presents an analysis of the findings and interpretation of the research data, 
using direct quotes from the teacher interviews to illustrate each point. The chapter 
includes descriptions and analyses of observations in classrooms, at cluster meetings and 
professional development workshops. It is divided into four sections. The first section is 
about these teachers in order to introduce the reader to the participants in the study and 
their thoughts on the career of teaching. The chapter continues with a discussion of 
teacher attitudes to change, adult developmental psychology and adult learning. The 
focus, and, therefore, the headings within this chapter, are the same as those in the 
chapter 2 literature review to illustrate that the two are concerned with the same issues 
and are parallel. 

Finally, chapter 5 presents conclusions and recommendations based on the findings 
and interpretations of chapter 4. The recommendations are based on what I learned from 
the responses of the teachers during their interviews. I used my analysis of the research 
data to answer my original question and was able to list the factors and conditions that 
motivated veteran teachers to change. The findings may be helpfial to school 



15 

administrators to enable them to make informed decisions when mandating that veteran 
middle school teachers adopt changes to improve teaching and learning for their students. 
Because of the increase in mid-life career changes among professionals, the conclusions 
may also be usefiil to adult educators who are responsible for training those learning how 
to meet the requirements of their new jobs. 

Recommendations are presented for each of the stakeholders in the school reform 
effort. Although teachers are the most visible, they are not the only people who are 
affected by the educational reform effort nor are they able to implement change without 
the input and assistance of the other stakeholders. Those other important stakeholders 
discussed are the principal, the district leadership, the parents and schools of education. 



16 

Chapter Two: Literature Review 

In this chapter I review some of the literature that provided background information 
for my study. To understand the impetus for the present school reform movement, T 
began by reading three important national studies that examined the quality of education 
in the United States and responded by making recommendations for improvement. 
National Calls for Educational Change 

In 1981, Secretary of Education Bell created the National Commission on Excellence 
in Education whose task was to define the problems that must be "faced and overcome to 
successfiilly pursue the course of excellence in education" (p. 2). The report alerted the 
public that "the people of the United States need to know that individuals in our society 
who do not possess the levels of skill, literacy, and training essential to this new era will 
be effectively disenfranchised, not simply from the material rewards that accompany 
competent performance, but also fi-om the chance to participate flilly in our national life" 
(p. 7). The Commission ched many risk indicators, among them are: 

o American students did poorly on nineteen academic tests in comparison with 

other industrialized nations. 
o 23 million American adults are functionally illiterate, 
o 13% of all 17 year olds in the United States are functionally illiterate. 
o Average achievement of high school students on most standardized tests was now 

lower than it was 26 years ago. 
o SAT scores demonstrated a decline from 1963 to 1981. 
o Business and military leaders complained that they were spending millions of 

dollars on remedial education and training programs in basic skills. 

In order to overcome these concerns, the report, published in 1983, entitled, A Nation at 

Risk, included the following recommendations for improvement: 

o High school requirements for diplomas must be rigorous. 

o School grades should be indicators of academic achievement. 

o Standardized tests should be used to evaluate student performance. 

o Textbooks need to be upgraded and updated and the content made more rigorous. 



17 



o More homework should be given. 

o Study and work skills need to be taught in early grades. 

o Time in school per day and per year needs to be increased. 

o Teacher preparation needs to be improved, 

o Teachers should demonstrate competence in their academic discipline. 

o Teacher's salaries should be increased and tied to an effective evaluation system 
that includes peer review. 

In 1991, during the term of President George Bush, the Department of Education 

released America 2000, An Education Strategy as a long-range plan to move the United 

States toward improving national education. The identified indicators of educational 

problems were similar to those stated in A Nation at Risk. To remedy the situation, six 

goals were adopted: 

o All children in America will start school ready to learn. 

o The high school graduation rate will increase to at least 90%. 

o American students in grades 4, 8, and 12 will demonstrate competency in English, 

mathematics, science, history and geography. 
o U.S. students will be first in the world in science and mathematics achievement. 
o Every adult American will be literate. 
o Every school in America will be drug and violence free and will offer an 

environment conducive to learning. 

These two reports, A Nation at Risk and America 2000 created a national challenge to 
reform education. States, school districts, and schools began to address the goal of 
enabling all children to be successfial. 

In 1994, the National Commission on Teaching & America's Future, fiinded by the 
Rockefeller Foundation and Carnegie Corporation, was formed to produce an action 
agenda focusing on the need to reform teacher preparation and the craft of teaching as the 
most critical component for meeting America's educational challenges. The executive 
director of the Commission, Linda Darling-Hammond, spearheaded a report, produced in 
1996, entitled What Matters Most; Teaching for America's Future. The Commission 



18 

proposed that within a decade, by the year 2006, every student in America will have a 
competent, caring, qualified teacher in a school organized for success. 
They made five recommendations to accomplish their goals: 

1 . Get serious about standards, for both students and teachers. 

2. Reinvent teacher preparation and professional development. 

3. Fix teacher recruitment and put qualified teachers in every classroom. 

4. Encourage and reward teacher knowledge and skill. 

5. Create schools that are organized for student and teacher success. 

In conjunction with the report, many program.s have been proposed to recruit, educate 
and mentor new teachers to meet the standards outlined by this challenging report. For 
example, state licensing requirements have been redesigned to include higher standards. 
A National Board for Professional Teaching Standards was created in 1987 in response to 
the 1983 A Nation at Risk report. National Board certification for teachers was offered 
for the first time during the 1993-94 school year to test and certify qualified teachers. 

With clear and urgent calls for reform and a focus on teacher excellence, the 
preparafion of veteran teachers for change became a national area of concern. Veteran 
teachers make up the vast majority of teachers in our schools today. In 1996, the median 
number of years of teacher experience in public elementary and secondary schools in the 
United States was fifteen years. In Massachusetts, in the 1993-94 school year, 33% of 
teachers had ten to twenty years of fiiU-fime teaching experience and 41% had over 
twenty years of fiiU-time teaching experience (Digest of Education Stafistics, 2001). The 
situation will not change in the near future, making it imperative to understand the 
conditions and supports needed by veteran teachers. 

My research question, concerning the factors and conditions that influence veteran 
teachers to change their practice, is consistent with the national concern. Therefore, to 



19 

answer my question regarding change in teacher practice, I read the literature in five 
critical aspects that I hypothesized may have an impact on how veteran teachers respond 
to suggested, required or self-initiated change. They are: the process of change, adult 
developmental psychology, adult learning theory, professional development, and 
understanding teachers in a professional context. In particular, I focused on the 
difficulties of implementing change and the stress and disruption "shaking it up" causes. 
I interviewed the teachers about differences between teacher-initiated and district- 
mandated change and their attitudes to each type of change. 

The teachers I interviewed were all veterans, defined, for the purpose of this study, as 
having taught for twelve years or more. To understand their developmental paths, I read 
about adult psychology and the ages and stages of adult development. Typically, school 
systems use professional development workshops and seminars, courses, conferences, 
journals, and teacher visits to other sites to prepare in-service teachers to implement 
changes in either content, what they are teaching, or practice, the way they are teaching. 

Because teachers are also learners, I studied adult learning theory and the conditions 
in which adults learn best. It was informative to compare what is known about adult 
learning to what is being offered to teachers in professional development sessions and to 
what I learned during my teacher interviews. To comprehend the challenges of pursuing 
a teaching career, I investigated the working conditions in schools that affect teachers. 
These include the flat teaching career, the culture of the school, the influence of 
colleagues and of the principal as each has an effect on the implementation of change. 



20 

Understanding the Factors that Affect Educational Change 

"The entire educational environment is in flux, as social, economic, and political 
forces radically reshape the world of schools" (Evans, 1996, p. 12). Schlechtly (1990) 
adds, "The problem is that schools today are expected to take on tasks that they have 
never been held responsible for before. And, even more fundamental, the present school 
structure grew out of a set of assumptions about the purpose of schooling that is 
inconsistent with emerging social and economic realities" (p.xviii). 
Classroom Diversity 

Over the past decade, the student body has become much more diverse and includes 
children from many regions of the world with various languages, customs and values. In 
addition, children arrive at school with a wide range of interests, skills and experiences. 
The classroom teacher is responsible for finding effective teaching techniques to integrate 
his/her diverse group of students into a class community. In addition to having to meet 
the needs of the diverse populations in their classes, teachers must also respond to the 
administration of the school that sets expectations of the faculty, the district and the state 
that make demands of the school and the teacher, and the nation that set an agenda of 
expectations for our schools. 

Parent and Community Relationships 

"Teachers are among the most important influences on the life and development of 
many young children. They play a key role in creating the generations of the fliture. 
With the decline of the church, the break-up of traditional communities, and diminishing 
contact that many children have with parents who can "be there" for their children on a 
regular basis, the moral role and importance of today's teacher is probably greater than it 



21 

has been for a long time" (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996, p. 18). A decrease in parent 
interactions with schools, may have a negative effect on children's achievement, because 
educators have already learned that parent involvement and participation in schools 
benefit the students, the teachers as well as the parents (Swap, 1993). "Meaningful 
parent involvement results in improved student achievement, attendance, motivation, self 
esteem, and behavior" (Burns, 1993, p. 9). Interaction with schools helps parents learn 
how to assist their children to succeed and their respect for teachers and schools 
increases. Teachers can benefit from relationships with parents by learning about the 
families' culture, needs and goals. 

Unfortunately, there are many barriers that make it difficult for parents to participate 
actively in schools. They are: dual working families who appear to be less involved in 
the daily lives of their children because of the pressures and time constraints of their jobs; 
single parents who have enormous demands on their time; and parents who have bad 
memories from their own school days and are distrustful of schools. In some areas, there 
are additional barriers, such as cultural and language separations between parents and the 
school which results in awkward and difficult communication. At the middle school, 
students have complex schedules and multiple subject area teachers, each with distinct 
expectations. These conditions are difficult to negotiate for many parents. 

Effective communication, trust and confidence in each other must be established as 
the operating pattern between home and school. Because there is a positive relationship 
between a child's school performance and parent involvement, (Swap, 1993; Burns, 
1993; Kellaghan, Sloane, Alvarez & Bloom, 1993) additional training in appropriate 
communication is necessary for teachers, and, for parents, a large variety of options for 



22 

involvement. Improving the school-home partnership may be another new role for 
teachers. 

The Importance of Sufficient Time for Change 

Teachers need time to integrate change, to become comfortable with a new program, 
to practice new skills and to make improvements. Teachers respond negatively to a 
system that appears to have little commitment to sustaining change. Industry addresses 
long-term change with a long-term strategic plan. New initiatives are implemented in 
parallel and support for them continues over time. Fullan reminds us that, "Significant 
change in the form of implementing specific innovations can be expected to take a 
minimum of two years; bringing about institutional reforms can take five or more years. 
Persistence is a critical attribute of successflal change" (Fullan, 1991, p. 106). It is 
imperative to allow sufficient time for change initiatives to become part of the school. 

In choosing to institute change, or a school reform initiative, schools frequently focus 
on a single subject area for one year and then move to the next subject in subsequent 
years. Devoting a single year to a given change and then withdrawing financial and 
pedagogical support for that change, and proceeding on to the next agenda item, 
undermines each innovation. In this situation, teachers have insufficient time to 
accommodate the change and make it their own. Innovation and improvement are 
accompanied by anxiety and discomfort, especially at the early stages of school change 
(Fullan, 1991). The professional teacher invariably becomes weary of the stress of 
continuous requirements for change and may give lip service to the next innovation but 
actually ignore its implementation. Senge (1990) emphasizes the need to develop a 
common vision in the school, to create an organizational climate in which people can 



23 

speak openly and honestly about important issues, and to challenge each other as well as 
themselves and their own thinking. 

The Impact of Change on Perceptions of Professional Competence 

Teaching is inherently a volatile activity with new activities daily and new children 
yearly, bringing constant variability to the classroom. One of my interviewees declared 
that in teaching "you cannot get bored." Learning to cope with additional mandated 
change means adapting, fitting new experiences into old patterns. When teachers 
maintain familiar and successful practices, they feel comfortable. Evans (1996) reminds 
us that change threatens people's sense of competence and their need to feel effective and 
in control. Change brings feelings of insecurity and additional stress to the teachers. 
Writing eleven years earlier than Evans, Argyris (1985) stated that almost any action that 
disturbs the organizational status quo or represents a threat to an individual's way of 
doing things is likely to provoke counterproductive behaviors. "These reactions include 
strong feelings of shame and guilt, loss of self-esteem and self-confidence, fear of new 
failure, and fear of acquiring a bad reputation" (Argyris, 1985, p. 156). Any of the above 
responses would act to impede a teacher's implementation of new initiatives, even sound 
ones. 

Successfiil old practices represent a known way of responding to given situations; 
doing something new represents a loss of the old When a teacher's comfort level is 
disrupted by change, it is necessary for him/her to find ways to return to a more stable 
and known situation. "Resistance to change can be constructive, fundamental to 
learning, essential to adaptation" (Evans, 1996, p. 27). People in a change situation often 



24 

feel insecure and reluctant to give up the old; in reality this response may be a strategy of 
personal protection and survival. 

The effective teacher feels comfortable with a technique that has been successful in 
the past, and anticipates that it will work again. Therefore, introducing innovation into 
the classroom may make the veteran teacher feel like a novice, having to suffer the 
disquiet of experimentation and failure. In a school reform effort, teachers are invariably 
asked to give up a technique, curriculum or relationship that they were good at and/or felt 
comfortable with and to replace it with something new with which they do not feel 
comfortable and at which they may not be as effective. "Why should teachers have to 
implement reforms they see as unrealistic, unfair, proposed by authors they mistrust, had 
no role in developing, failed previously, does not address their concerns?" (Evans, 1996, 
p. 88) 

When change is imposed on teachers, with little input or forewarning, a formerly 
effective teacher must confront new challenges and learn to be successful with a new 
program or strategy. The rules of the game have changed without a period of learning 
and adjustment. If the self-image of the teacher suffers, the outcome of the irmovation 
may suffer. Teachers must be prepared for the impact of change on their professional 
competence and also receive adequate training to integrate the new techniques into their 
teaching repertoire. By replacing current techniques with new ones, change inherently 
devalues the current skill level, threatens people's sense of competence, experience, and 
learning and their need to feel effective and in control. 

The administration of the school must be cognizant of the impact of change and 
therefore set a reasonable timetable for implementation. Teachers need time to learn and 



25 

become skilled with a new initiative. However, "[r]eformers are often impatient about 
the time lag in educational reform because they operate on a schedule driven by election 
deadlines, career opportunities, the timing of foundation grants, the shifting attention of 
the public, or the desire of media people for the dramatic photo opportunity or sound 
bite" (Tyack & Cuban, 1995, p. 55). Fullan (1991) alerts us that, "The basic guideline is 
to work at fewer innovations, but do them better — because it is probably not desirable, 
and certainly not humanly possible, to implement all changes expected, given what we 
know about the time and energy required for effective implementation" (p. 104). 
Understanding Veteran Teachers as Adults: Adult Developmental Psychology 
All the teachers in my study were veterans of twelve or more years of teaching 
experience. To understand how veteran teachers learn and change, I studied life-span 
developmental psychology, concerned with explaining and describing age-related change 
from birth to death. Formerly, most psychologists emphasized the development of 
children and adolescents; in the past fifty years, however, they have recognized that 
adults continue to develop throughout their lives. Some psychologists have tied a 
developmental period to a particular chronological age, while others have studied the 
effect of life events and transitions independent of age-the "ages" and "stages" of adult 
development. The major difference between the two sets of theories is whether or not the 
developmental changes observed are related to age or to significant events or stages. A 
third group of psychologists focuses on a relational model of development, based 
primarily on their studies of women. 



26 

Age Theory 

Age theories of development focus on the life tasks or conflicts that stimulate growth 
and which present themselves at relatively specific times in the life cycle. Two age 
theorists whose work applies to my study are Erik Erikson and Gail Sheehy. 

Erik Erikson (1950) described development as a series of crises or turning points that 
evolve at different ages (or phases) and which must be resolved. He designates eight 
distinct phases between infancy and old age. "According to Erikson, three turning points 
take place during adulthood: intimacy vs. isolation, generativity vs. self- absorption, and 
integrity vs. despair" (Levine, 1987, p.7). Between 40 and 60 or 65, the middle 
adulthood years, adults are interested in guiding and nurturing the next generation, or 
generativity. Generativity is "the interest in establishing and guiding the next generation 
or whatever in a given case may become the absorbing object of a parental kind of 
responsibility" (Erikson, 1950, p. 23 1). For the most part, this fits with the age range of 
the veteran teachers I interviewed and therefore, applies to them. 

Gail Sheehy (1981) popularized adult development theory by writing about the 
development of adult females. She observed that women generally experience more 
restrictions and contradictions during the first half of the life cycle than men, and that the 
pattern reverses itself from mid-life on. At mid-life— the age of the aduhs I interviewed— 
many men begin to turn inward and women, whose children have grown and left home, 
are interested in careers and advancement outside the home. Since most teachers are 
women, Sheehy' s focus is important to a study of change. 



27 

Stage Theory 

An alternative to the sequential age-related model of development is the life events 
and transitions framework, or stage theory. Life events shape people's lives and are not 
always connected to specific age periods. Transitions caused by life events may lead to 
learning and change ((Levenson & Grumpier, 1996). Two prominent psychologists 
whose work contributed to the development of stage theory of adult development are 
Jane Loevinger (1976) and William Perry (1970V 

Transition cycles are not necessarily an orderly or sequential process. Adults learning 
to cope with transitions must break with the past and integrate a new experience. Some 
educators speculate that adults engage in learning as one way to cope with life events, 
while others feel that it is not a good time for change in the workplace. Although 
transitions are a source of learning, "more learning happens in periods that people 
perceive as good versus bad times" (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999, p. 197). Within the 
school, veteran teachers may be coping with an aging parent or ailing spouse and have 
time constraints that make after-school involvement impossible. With the necessity for 
adjusting to new circumstances at home, school change may be an untenable burden. 

Stage theory and age theory are two ways of looking at adult development. At 
different times, either may be useflil to understand the life events of teachers and if these 
affect what happens in the school. Because it is important to respect the personal privacy 
of the teacher, the school may not be aware of age-or-stage related passages that 
influence a teacher. A responsive system will provide the support that is needed by the 
teacher to navigate the age or stage successfully. In order to design successful 



28 

professional development and adequate support systems, the school must be aware and 
respectful of the various developmental stages of their faculty members. 
Relational Models 

Another set of scholars looked at "the centrality of relationships as key to 
developmenf (Merriam and Caffarella, 1999, p. 1 10). I studied the work of Carol 
Gilligan (1992), Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger & Tarule (1986), and the work of 
relational feminist psychologists as examples of relational models of development. Carol 
Gilligan (1992) studied developmental differences between men and women. She 
discovered that women's moral decisions are often influenced by their sense of 
responsibility toward others and are tied to relationships. In contrast, men's identity is 
generally formed by establishing independence and autonomy. 

Relational feminist psychology states that our sense of self is continuously formed in 
connection to others, and emphasizes the importance of relationships and collaboration in 
learning. Recognizing feelings is a critical component of relational learning. A relational 
view of the development of women contrasts with theories that focus on men and their 
development of autonomy, independence and separation as the path to personal growth. 
"Women's sense of personhood is grounded in the motivation to make and enhance 
relatedness to others. Women find satisfaction, pleasure, effectiveness and a sense of 
worth if they experience their life activities as arising from, and leading back into, a sense 
of connection with others" (Miller, 1986, p.l). 

Belenky et al. (1986) conducted a study of 135 women and how they learn. Among 
their findings, the most applicable to my study is that for these women, it was 
advantageous to foster an environment of support between learners and instructors. 



29 

Feelings and relationships were an important part of the learning experience for them. It 
appears to be important to incorporate these findings when planning professional 
development workshops, including teachers in setting the agenda and arranging for some 
of the learning to be done in collegia! groups. A way in which relational theory could 
inform professional development related to teachers and schools would be to consult with 
teachers, prior to an event, about what they need to know and include the findings in the 
plan, fi-om setting the agenda to the methodology for learning. 
Adult Developmental Psychology Applied to Veteran Teachers 

Within the school, administrators and professional development planners need to 
understand where teachers are in their internal growth. That knowledge should enable 
them to shape professional development activities that motivate veteran staff and to 
modify working conditions to meet their needs. In this way, the school system will 
support its teachers more effectively to achieve positive results (Krupp, 1981). 

In mid-life, spanning the ages fi-om 40-45 to 60-65, the age of most veteran teachers, 
adults integrate the activities of youth, accept themselves for who they are and look 
forward to guiding the next generation. An ideal pairing would allow a middle adult 
teacher to mentor a first year teacher, or to supervise a student teacher. Mentoring 
provides veteran teachers with an opportunity for career variation and growth without 
having to leave the classroom for an administrative role. Mentoring also recognizes 
veteran teachers for their experience and skills, a situation that enhances self-esteem. 
The veteran teacher, in observing the protege, will be exposed to new teaching strategies 
that may be applied to his/her own classroom. The pairing is a way to eliminate the 
isolation of teaching and to provide an opportunity to learn for both individuals, to the 



30 

benefit of each. For women faculty members, the mentoring or student teacher 
relationship is consistent with relational feminist psychology in establishing a 
collaborative learning relationship with another teacher. However, men may prefer to 
sponsor an afterschool club to become close to their students, or present workshops to 
share their knowledge with colleagues. 
Understanding Teachers as Adult Learners: Adult Learning Theory 

Teachers are frequently asked to participate in professional development sessions, 
such as workshops, seminars and courses and, in these situations need to be involved as 
adult learners. To be effective in their practice, teachers must continually learn new 
content and ways of presenting it to students. This constant need for learning and 
implementing changes includes teachers among adult learners. 

Malcolm Knowles (1984) studied adult learners and identified many of their 
distinguishing characteristics. Andragogy is defined as the study of learning in adults and 
how it differs from the way in which children learn. "Andragogy is based on the 
assumptions that (a) adults tend to become more self-directed as they mature; (b) adults 
have had rich life experiences; (c) adults want to learn and are internally motivated to do 
so, (d) adults want learning to be purposeful, practical, relevant, and immediately 
applicable, and (e) adults are more problem-centered than content-centered" (Guzman, 
2000). Adult learners are more highly motivated to learn, and have a clearer sense of 
what they want from their education, than are young students. Knowles' findings have 
important implications for designing in-service programs for teachers. The sessions must 
involve teachers in the planning and assessment of instruction. The instruction must be 
relevant to teacher concerns, problem oriented, and actively involve the participants. 



31 

Adult Learning Theory Applied to Professional Development 

In contrast to the recommendations drawn from the work of the aduh learning 
theorists, staff development is usually presented to all teachers at the same time, a "one 
size fits all" event. To be helpful to most of the teachers in the school, professional 
development opportunities must be flexible and meet the needs of the adult at his/her 
stage of development. The middle age-span adult may want to engage in a number of 
different activities that appeal to his/her own interests and need for improvement. For 
example, a teacher may want to attend a conference in an area of interest, present a paper 
to describe his/her classroom experiences, write a grant to pursue specific objectives, visit 
other schools or even take a sabbatical (Krupp, 1981). In order to enable teachers to 
engage in the above activities, a special fiind for meeting one's professional goals must 
be established for each teacher. 

In the report of the National Commission on Time and Learning, Prisoners of Time 
(1994), the authors note that, although schools try to implement new instructional 
innovations, they fail to provide the time for teachers to study, reflect on, and apply new 
research to learn new skills. Several strategies for professional learning that are having 
some success with veteran teachers are the formation of study groups, case discussions, 
action research, peer coaching, mentoring, examining student work together and 
establishing professional networks (Loucks-Horsley, 1998). All of the above suggestions 
engage the adult learner in relationships with peers, activities that are consistent with the 
relational theory of aduh development and of aduh learning theory. 



32 

Understanding Teachers in a Professional Context 

The scope of teachers' tasks is enormous. Lortie (1975) wrote in the preface to his 
book that, "Public schools shape our young and influence their life chances." The 
National Commission on Teaching & America's Future (1996) stated, "Studies have 
found that teacher expertise is the single most important factor in determining student 
achievement and that fully trained teachers are far more effective with students than those 
who are not prepared." In studies being done in Tennessee, Texas, Massachusetts and 
Alabama, the research results tie ".. teachers to achievement in their classrooms" 
(Haycock, 1998). Therefore, it behooves us to understand the needs of teachers and how 
to improve their training in order to improve student learning. 
As Human Resources 

Bolman and Deal (1997), in their hook Reframmg Organizations, present one way of 

looking at the role of teachers. The authors analyze organizations by looking at four 

frames—structural, political, human resource and symbolic—in order to provide multiple 

perspectives which may be used for problem solving. Although the authors write from a 

business perspective, the human resource frame is particularly applicable to schools 

because it concerns the needs of the individual and the organization. It treats the hiring 

and training of employees as an investment rather than as an expense. 

The human resource frame stresses the relationship between people and 
organizations. Organizations need people (for their energy, effort, and talent), 
and people need organizations (for the many intrinsic and extrinsic rewards they 
offer), but their needs are not always well aligned. When the fit between people 
and organizations is poor, and one or both suffers, individuals may feel neglected 
or oppressed, and organizations sputter because individuals withdraw their efforts 
or even work against organizational purposes. Conversely, a good fit benefits 
both: individuals find meaningfiil and satisfying work, and organizations get the 
talent and energy they need to succeed, (p. 119) 



33 

There are schools in which the "fit" between the organization and the teachers is 
beneficial to both and in which teachers are respected for their skills, expertise and 
experience with children. "People are the chief resources in the education enterprise. 
This is not a pious platitude; it is a social facf (Schlechty, 1990, p. 64). Therefore, how 
teachers are treated, how they are prepared to meet the expectations established for them 
and how they approach their work are all important to the output of energy and creativity 
that benefit the students in the school. 

In a Flat Career with a Pre-determined Salary Scale 

At the present time, the career of the teacher is very "flaf ; that is, there are few 
opportunities for teachers to work beyond the classroom and continue to be valued for 
their contribution to teaching (FuUan & Hargreaves, 1996). In 1975, Lortie commented 
that, "... schools were organized around teacher separation rather than teacher 
interdependence" (p. 14). Even today, a teacher's value is primarily assessed by the time 
spent in front of a class of students. In the current school arrangement, there are few 
incentives for supporting colleagues, developing curricula or designing new strategies. 
Instead, teachers need expanded opportunities to be recognized for taking a leadership 
role either inside or outside the classroom. "Teaching is not a profession that values or 
encourages leadership within its ranks... Leadership opportunities are extremely limited" 
(Boles & Troen, 1997, p. 53). 

Schools compensate their teachers by establishing a salary scale that depends on 
number of years of service and level of educational preparation, and rarely on any other 
factors. Teachers are "paid far less than workers with similar years of training who hold 
more socially valued jobs" (Johnson, 1990, p. 5). By contrast, in a corporate setting. 



34 

when employees are asked to do something new, develop new skills, or take on more 
responsibility, or if their contribution is perceived to be outstanding, there is usually an 
incentive or reward in the form of an increase in salary or status; that is, employees are 
given a raise in pay or a promotion to a higher position. In a school setting, because of 
the lock-step increases for time on the job within a fixed salary structure, as well as the 
narrow job description of a teacher, rarely is there any additional compensation or 
recognition for additional effort, creativity or innovation. 
The Role of Academic Research within Schools 

In the area of research on the topic of teaching and learning, there is a disconnect 
between the researchers who come into schools from academia and the teachers who are 
working in the classroom. "The view that research findings are unhelpfiil to practice is 
often exacerbated by encounters with researchers in the final phases of their projects, 
when findings are presented via presentations and lectures. The unidirectional flow of 
information in these presentations often results in frustration and skepticism on the part 
of educators, many of whom may dispute researchers' assumptions or interpretations" 
(Huberman, 1999, p. 290). 

The researcher uses academic language and aspires to publish in his/her peer 
community whereas the teacher uses language that is concrete, and applies to a specific 
classroom and to the children being taught. Huberman (1999) quotes one of the 
researchers regarding the practitioners' knowledge, ". . .when teachers were trying to 
implement things in their classrooms, such as the NCTM standards, they had very little to 
go on, and most of the research literature wasn't really helpful. And I began to see that 



35 

research that's done outside the context of practice can be totally irrelevant to practice, 
and I think often is" (p. 296). 

Teachers are often asked to implement techniques and activities generated by the 
research community that do not translate effectively to the classroom. To improve 
student learning, the transfer of information between the two groups must flow in both 
directions. "Each encounter is another opportunity to penetrate the universe of the other" 
(Huberman, 1999, p. 302) to benefit each group of participants, necessitating substantially 
increased interaction between the two groups. Reading the current research, one wonders 
how many school reform programs that were developed by researchers, or others outside 
of the classroom, were suggested, tried and then rejected by teachers who found them 
ineffective, or even counterproductive. Teachers involved in action research in their own 
classrooms or in school wide curriculum development are able to design changes that 
meet both their needs and those of their students, and are appropriate to their setting. 
Teachers' findings and suggestions are more likely to be embraced by colleagues than 
those developed and imposed by a detached outside research project. 
The Influence of School Culture 

"Schools have a culture of their own, a set of complex rituals of personal 
relationships, a set of folkways, mores and irrational sanctions, a moral code based upon 
them" (Bolman & Deal, 1997, p. 4). "Change is difficuh because it ahers cultural forms 
that give meaning to schools and classrooms" (p. 8). "To change an organization's 
structure, therefore, one must attend not only to rules, roles, and relationships but to 
systems of beliefs, values, and knowledge as well. Structural change requires cultural 
change" (Schlechty, 1990, p.xvii). In implementing a school reform agenda, the 



36 

importance of the existing culture is too often overlooked. "And all school cultures are 
incredibly resistant to change, which makes school improvement — from within or from 
without — usually futile" (Barth, 2002, p. 7). For example, when the innovation upsets 
personal relationships by imposing teacher teams, the teachers need to reconfigure their 
relationships with colleagues, a step that must take place before groups begin to coalesce 
and learn how to work together effectively. "The stronger the culture, the more firmly it 
resists new influences" (Evans, 1996, p.46). Change disrupts familiar patterns and 
learning how to function in the changed situation is a difficult and lengthy process. The 
challenge includes making the new behavior effective and comfortable so that the new 
becomes integrated with the old and familiar and part of the teacher's pattern of behavior. 

Within the school, teachers must be encouraged to take risks and try new approaches. 
Some of the newer strategies being tried include site-based management, peer coaching, 
teacher study groups and mentoring. Teachers need to know that they will be supported 
by the administration of the school and by their colleagues to learn new techniques and 
strategies. When the culture of the school resists experimentation by teachers and does 
not permit them to try, fail, and try again, teachers quickly learn that trying a new 
strategy is too costly to their careers and will not continue the practice. "To change the 
culture requires that more desirable qualities replace the existing unhealthy elements" 
(Barth, 2002, p. 8). "Among the list of healthy cultural norms are collegiality, 
experimentation, high expectations, trust and confidence, tangible support, appreciation 
and recognition, involvement in decision making, honest and open communication" 
(Saphier & King, 1985, p.67). 



37 

The Role of Other Adults in the School 

Within the school, teachers work with two groups of adults, the administrative 
personnel and other teachers. They each play a role in a teacher's response to change. 
The Influence of the Principal 

Principals are crucial to the success of school reform. "[I]t is a problem of 
leadership. . .and of transforming the role of the principal from that of a meeting-bound 
bureaucrat, to an instructional leader who can work closely with his or her staff in 
developing and implementing common educational goals" (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996, 
p. 15). Both Sarason (1996) and Senge (1990) point out that it is the principal who 
provides for the ongoing learning of the faculty by planning professional development 
opportunities within the school, often using outside resources. Sarason (1996) reinforces 
the fact that the principal frequently observes teachers in various settings and thus has the 
opportunity to encourage risk taking by teachers in the classroom. 

Principals must provide the leadership to establish a culture in which innovation is 
valued and rewarded, where teachers are helped to grow in practice, recognized and 
celebrated for their accomplishments. Principals need to share with their faculty the 
challenges that are faced by the school and then develop a method of working together to 
generate workable solutions to address troublesome issues. The principal must learn to 
share leadership with the teachers in an environment in which both top-down and bottom- 
up changes are encouraged and respected by all parties, and then implemented to benefit 
student learning. It is necessary to "identify the most powerftil and enduring qualities of 
collaborative leadership, to foster them in teachers and administrators of both sexes, and 



38 

to build effective leadership teams where these qualities are shared and combined across 
groups. This is an enormously difficult challenge..." (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996, p. 61). 

Sarason (1996) states that it is the principal who establishes the norms for change even 
beyond the school by making parents feel welcome in the school, respecting their needs 
and encouraging their involvement. The principal needs to view the school as part of the 
larger community and be open to communication with the residents of the area 
surrounding the school. Lastly, the principal is responsible for building a staff team, 
interviewing prospective teachers and hiring those who are in agreement with and will 
work to advance the vision of the school. 

The Influence of Colleagues 

Teachers interact infrequently with their peers and rarely confront each other over 
educational matters or differences in their approach to students. Teachers need to learn 
the skills necessary to work through conflicts and resolve disagreements with adults to 
encourage and support innovation. Knowing how to negotiate successfully, share 
problems and brainstorm together will lead to better resolution of problems and ease the 
anxiety level of teachers as they implement and sustain change efforts in schools. 
Teachers are able to instruct their students in how to resolve conflict and need to learn 
how to apply those skills to their own work with their adult colleagues. 

Teachers need time to connect with other professionals to build a learning community, 
a culture in which they continue to learn together. Learning with others requires a change 
in school culture. Many strategies, such as peer coaching, teacher leaders and teacher 
inquiry, have been suggested to involve teachers in joint activities with their colleagues to 
advance their craft (Loucks-Horsley, 1998). To change to a practice of increased 



39 

collegial interactions and consultations, teachers need to learn how to work with other 
adults, how to observe them, what to look for and how to comment on what was seen. 
Giving negative feedback to a colleague is painful and risky. Teachers, accustomed to 
instructing children and delivering criticism sensitively, need to learn how to provide 
similar feedback to an adult colleague without losing a friend or exposing a weakness. 
Summary 

"Better schooling will result in the future — as it has in the past and does now — chiefly 
from the steady, reflective efforts of the practitioners who work in schools" (Tyack & 
Cuban, 1995, p. 135). One of the frequently used methods of working with teachers to 
provide increased facility with new programs is appropriate and effective professional 
development for teachers. "Probably nothing within a school has more impact on 
students in terms of skill development, self-confidence, or classroom behavior than the 
personal and professional growth of their teachers. . .When teachers stop growing, so do 
their students" (Barth, 1980, p. 147). If student learning is to improve, it is necessary to 
meet the needs of teachers. The National Commission on Teaching & America's Future 
(1996) confirms Barth's position and states that we need to ensure that ". . .all 
communities have teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to teach so that all 
children can learn, and all school systems are organized to support teachers in this work. 
A caring, competent, and qualified teacher for every child is the most important 
ingredient in education reform" (p. vi). 

In order for educational change to take place, the school must provide the structures 
necessary to implement new initiatives (Senge, 1990; Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996). A 
teaching schedule is needed that allocates time for meetings to study data about student 



40 

performance, to do the research necessary to identify effective new teaching approaches, 
to enable teachers to present professional development workshops for their colleagues. 
To assure that the necessary time is available, schools need the handing to hire additional 
personnel to substitute for the teachers involved in pursuits outside of the classroom. 
Teachers must receive acknowledgment that the work done outside the classroom as a 
useful and valid activity for teachers. 

Theories of adult development provide an understanding of what is happening to 
veteran teachers physically and psychologically as they grow older and suggest ways of 
responding effectively to their needs. During their forties, teachers are entering a stage in 
which their own children are growing up and beginning to leave home. These aduhs 
want to enter into relationships with others, a period of generativity (Erikson, 1950). 
They are able to mentor new teachers or to coach each other. They have attained the 
status of expert teacher and should be encouraged to teach their colleagues and to share 
their knowledge and innovations about students and practices. As teachers, both men and 
women need cognitive and emotional support in relationships, further motivation to 
establish mentoring relationships or other situations in which they may learn from each 
other, such as study groups. Both age and stage theories reinforce the necessity of 
sensitivity to the developmental needs of teachers in planning professional development 
workshops and implementation requirements and timetables. 

Studies of effective professional development by such people as Loucks-Horsley 
(1998) confirm the work of Knowles (1984). Professional development workshops for 
teachers will be more successful if consideration is given to how adults learn. An 



41 

administrator must be responsive to the faculty and act with flexibility and thoughtflilness 
to meet the teachers' needs. 

Many components must work together to create an infrastructure for change: the 
culture of the school, an understanding of the complex process of educational change, the 
age and the stage of development of the members of the faculty and the perceptiveness of 
administrators in recognizing and addressing the needs of the faculty. To these factors 
must be added an adequate budget to flind continuing education and sufficient time for 
teachers who are engaged in the change process to integrate the new techniques into their 
teaching repertoire. All the factors together can provide an environment conducive to 
teacher learning and growth and, ultimately to improved learning for all students. 



42 

Chapter Three: Qualitative Research Methods 
Purpose of the Study 

During my teaching career, I have looked for successful classroom strategies, 
investigated the ways in which change is essential to meet the needs of children and 
observed the wide range of teacher responses to educational change. From these interests 
and my personal insights, I crafted this research study that addresses questions involving 
veteran teachers and change. To study veteran teachers in their school setting, I 
interviewed them to learn their responses to changes in curriculum or teaching strategies. 
I interviewed members of the administrative staff about the goals of the school system for 
professional development and how those goals were communicated to the faculty. I 
visited the teachers in their classrooms to observe the implementation of new strategies. I 
attended professional development workshops to observe teacher training to use new 
programs. I attended cluster meetings to observe the effect of the clusters on the 
implementation of change by the teachers. By combining the information from each of 
the above areas, I was able to construct a qualitative research study to reveal the 
conditions and factors that teachers consider important for implementing school change. 

In order to study the process of change in schools and its effect on veteran teachers, I 
chose a qualitative research design. Another appropriate term for the type of research I 
carried out for this study is "naturalistic research" (Hein, 1997; Bogdan & Biklen, 1998). 
A qualitative research design was appropriate because change is a complex process with 
many variables, the context was crucial and I was interested in learning about feelings 
that are not quantifiable. My data was gathered during interviews with ten middle school 



43 

veteran teachers and two administrators, observations of their teaching in the classroom, 
during professional development workshops and cluster meetings. 

In Qualitative Research Design, Maxwell (1996, P. 17) suggests that there are 
particular research purposes for which qualitative studies are especially suited. Among 
them are: 

o "Understanding the meaning, for participants in the study, of the events, 
situations and actions they are involved with and of the accounts that they 
give of their lives and experiences." 

o "Understanding the particular context within which the participants act, and 
the influence that this context has on their actions." 

o "Understanding the process by which events and actions take place." 

Using a qualitative approach, I focused on the perspective of teachers and their 
understanding of the particular setting in which they teach. As a result, I was able to use 
the words and points of view of teachers as I examined the issues. The results of the 
research may inform future decision-making regarding the variety and format of 
professional development activities, the primary means used by schools to impart 
innovative strategies, and increase the support services offered to the teachers during the 
implementation of change initiatives. 
Characteristics of Qualitative Research 

My research design is consistent with a qualitative research model. In order to gather 
data to answer my research question, I interviewed ten middle school veteran teachers 
and two administrators and observed them in their work. I designed an interview 
protocol of open-ended questions that would enable the teachers to tell me how they 
experienced the change initiatives they were currently working on. I was looking for 
how they described their reactions to multiple plans for changing either the content or the 
teaching strategies they used. I was interested in how they distinguished between various 



44 

types of changes and different formats of professional development that had been offered 
in their school, and the effect it had on their own style of teaching and the needs of their 
students. I wanted to know what changes they made to new initiatives to make them 
more comfortable for themselves and more appropriate in their classrooms. Their 
responses to my open-ended questions enabled me to understand "and capture the points 
of view of other people without predetermining those points of view through prior 
selection of questionnaire categories" (Patton, 1990, p.l4). 

Qualitative researchers are concerned with context; consequently, they go to the actual 
setting because of their belief that the phenomena being studied can be best understood 
where it occurs. Qualitative research is also called "naturalistic because the researcher 
frequents places where the events he or she is interested in naturally occur" (Bogdan & 
Biklen, 1998, p. 3). In order to gather such context specific data, I observed the teachers 
in their classes, at professional development workshops and during cluster meetings to 
gather additional data. The context remained a central focus as all the data gathering and 
observations were completed at the school. 

In qualitative research, the data collected are descriptive and "thick". Geertz (1973) 
uses the term "thick" to describe the level of detail of the context in which the behaviors 
are observed. The data I collected included interviews, fieldnotes, observations, student 
evaluations and writing and memos. All of samples gathered, pertinent to the setting in 
which these teachers taught, were analyzed to reveal the richness of the information. 
Direct quotes are included to report how the subjects viewed the situation without 
reducing it to numbers or symbols. "At the root of in-depth interviewing is an interest in 
understanding the experience of other people and the meaning they make of that 



45 

experience. It is a powerful way to gain insight into educational issues through 
understanding the experience of the individuals whose lives constitute education" 
(Seidman, 1991, p. 1). The researcher is attempting to understand what is being studied 
through the lens of the subjects and therefore, "everything has the potential of being a 
clue that might unlock a more comprehensive understanding of what is being studied" 
(Bogdan & Biklen, 1998, p. 6). The researcher is concerned with process, not exclusively 
with product (a focus similar to the concerns of classroom teachers). 

In order to be consistent with qualitative research methods, I analyzed my data upon 
completion of the data gathering. The analysis enabled me to construct a picture as it 
emerged from the subjects, to understand the behavior of the teachers and how they 
interpreted the meaning of their experiences. 
Methods of Qualitative Study 

I used aspects of several methods of qualitative study to complete my research project. 
Two of the characteristic methods of ethnographic research that applied to my study were 
participant observation and a focus on the context in which the behaviors were observed. 
I became immersed in the culture of the school in my role of University liaison during 
which I observed teachers involved both inside and outside their classrooms. "But while 
an ethnography may be crammed with details and facts, it also conveys an argument and 
an informing context as to how these details and facts interweave" (Van Maanen, 1988, 
p.30). Participant observation requires both in-depth observations and social 
participation in a group. During my two years as liaison at the middle school, I 
interviewed and observed teachers to learn how they responded to the school's mandate 
for change, how they experienced the professional development workshops and the 



46 

processes they used for adapting changes. I was a facilitator for several teacher 
workshops and thus participated actively. For other workshops, I attended as an 
observer. 

I also studied the teachers, in their own classrooms and observed how they responded 
to and implemented new initiatives mandated by the school. In this aspect of my study, a 
phenomenological approach was used in order to understand an experience in a context- 
specific setting. The phenomenon being investigated was the preparation for and 
implementation of change and the context was the school in which the research was done. 
My task was to understand change from the perspective of the teachers who were 
implementing it. A phenomenological study "focuses on descriptions of what people 
experience and how it is that they experience what they experience" (Patton, 1990, p. 71). 

I tried to determine if gender made a difference in the responses of the teachers to my 
questions. Therefore, I was alert to possible differences between the men and women 
teachers in their responses about school initiatives for change. Most of the teachers in the 
school are women and I interviewed nine women and three men for my study. Feminist 
researchers believe that including a feminist approach would be useful in every field of 
research because gender shapes the conditions of the lives of those being studied. 
Generalizability, Reliability and Validity 

Qualitative researchers are concerned with whether their research is generalizable, 
reliable and valid. 

To be generalizable, the interpretation of the findings of the research must be able to 
be applied to other people in similar settings. Although qualitative research produces a 
great deal of detailed information, it uses a small sample number. Therefore, it is 



47 

difficult to generalize to other people and places. Schofield looks at generalizability in a 
slightly different way. "A consensus appears to be emerging that for qualitative 
researchers generalizability is best thought of as a matter of the "fit" between the 
situation studied and others to which one might be interested in applying the concepts and 
conclusions of that study. This conceptualization makes thick descriptions crucial, since 
without them one does not have the information necessary for an informed judgment 
about the issue of fit" (Schofield, 1990, p. 226). To assure the generalizability of my 
study, I conducted detailed interviews and sought patterns in responses that were 
consistent to the context and also to other adults in situations similar to those of the 
subjects I studied 

Research data are reliable if different researchers, studying the same subjects 
independently, come up with the same findings, even at different times. Multiple sources 
of information provide a fuller picture of the subject of the research study. The 
combination of sources may be used to cross check findings and to reveal contradictory 
information, distortions or untruths. Reliability is further enhanced when the researcher 
describes the research process in detail to enable fiiture researchers to repeat the study in 
comparable settings. Because the researcher is the instrument for gathering the data, 
he/she must be unintrusive during fieldwork and avoid actions that may interfere with the 
process being observed. To make my findings reliable, I used both interviews and 
observations and looked for convergence of the information gathered. 

Validity depends on assuring that the instrument being used actually measures what it 
is supposed to measure. To test the validity of their research instrument, qualitative 
researchers test their interview questions in a pilot study prior to beginning the actual 



48 

research. They use the same process for conducting each subsequent interview and ask 
the sanae interview questions. "The main threat to valid interpretation is imposing one's 
own framework or meaning, rather than understanding the perspective of the people 
studied and the meaning they attach to their words and actions" (Maxwell, 1996, p. 88). 
Threats to validity include "not collecting enough data or paying attention to discrepant 
data, or not considering alternative explanations or understanding of the phenomena 
studied" (Maxwell, 1996, p. 91). Rich and complete data, rigorous examination of the 
data, and analysis of both supportive and discrepant data were my safeguards for validity. 
I conducted two small pilot studies before I determined that my protocol yielded 
information applicable to my study. All the interviews were conducted at the school, at 
times that were convenient to the teachers and adhered to the protocol. 

Researchers use a procedure called triangulation, which uses "multiple perceptions to 
clarify meaning, verifying the repeatability of an observation or interpretation" (Denzin 
& Lincoln, 2000, p. 443). To triangulate my data, I interviewed each teacher twice and 
visited classrooms multiple times until I noted the same or similar information being 
repeated. "Triangulation of observations and interviews can provide a more complete 
and accurate account than either could alone" (Maxwell, 1996, p. 76). "Triangulation was 
first borrowed in the social sciences to convey the idea that, to establish a fact, you need 
more that one source of information" (Bogdan & Biklen, 1998, p. 104). 
Gaining Entry 

Although it can be difficult to gain access to a group of teachers for the purpose of 
conducting a study of the type I did, I had already established a relationship with the 
teachers in my position as liaison from a University School of Education to the Middle 



49 

School. The pubhc schools of the town and four local University Schools of Education 
participated in a joint partnership to improve the training of student teachers. Professional 
development seminars were presented weekly at the school by an on-site coordinator and 
the University liaison. The seminars focused on the analyzing various teaching strategies 
that were challenging to the student teachers and on informing them about support 
services and personnel available at the school; for example, the librarian, the school 
nurse, the guidance counselors, special needs teachers and the assistant principal (for 
disciplinary problems). In addition, periodic seminars and meetings were presented for 
the cooperating teachers on the subject of supervision of pre-service teachers. 

In the year prior to my study, when I was University liaison, I explained to the pre- 
service and in-service teachers that I was not there to evaluate or judge them. Instead, I 
was available to act as "another pair of eyes" to advise and instruct them in areas in 
which they were having difficuhy. For about three months I visited classrooms when 
invited, and answered questions and/or made suggestions when asked. During a meeting 
of team leaders I was introduced by the Principal and volunteered to help the teachers use 
curriculum maps that they were all required to write. Fortuitously, I had attended several 
seminars with Heidi Hayes Jacobs (1997), the designer of the mapping process and my 
experiences were useful to the teachers. While working together to learn how to use the 
maps effectively, we were able to develop a comfortable and trusting relationship. 

While working as the University liaison, I had the opportunity to learn about the 
culture of the school and to meet the teachers. Gaining entry to their world took many 
months, and the relationships I developed with the teachers were helpful in conducting 
the study. I was impressed by the amount of professional development the school system 



50 

offered to its teachers. Many programs in various stages of implementation existed at the 
same time, and teachers had numerous opportunities to be involved in training. Inasmuch 
as I wanted to study veteran teachers and change, I determined that the school would be 
an excellent site in which to conduct my research. 
Research Population 

In order to select research participants, I designed and distributed a questionnaire (see 
Appendix A, p. 120) to all the teachers. I wanted to learn which of the professional 
development opportunities they had participated in and which initiatives they were 
implementing in their classrooms. They were asked about their length of service, theu- 
subject matter, and their willingness to be interviewed. The principal introduced me to 
the faculty at a staff meeting early in the school year and suggested that I distribute the 
questionnaire at that time. She invited me to use some meeting time for the teachers to 
complete the questionnaire and then to collect it immediately. In this way, I was able to 
get a large number of responses, a method far better than waiting for teacher responses to 
trickle into my school mailbox. 

Among the teachers who taught for twelve years or more, nine men and eighteen 
women responded. Twelve of the women consented to be interviewed, four omitted the 
question and two said no, a total of 67% consenting. Among the men, only two 
consented to be interviewed, two did not answer the question at all and five said no, a 
total of 22% consenting. I personally asked one of the men who did not answer the 
question if he would consent to be interviewed and he agreed. 

The research subjects, selected from the group that consented to be interviewed, were 
veteran teachers who had participated in professional development workshops and were 



51 

presently implementing one or more of the new school initiatives in their own 
classrooms. By explaining to the teachers that I would use their responses to the 
questionnaire to select the interviewees for my study, I hoped to avoid any perception of 
favoritism and at the same time, to capture the range of experience, age, gender and 
subject matter teachers within the school population. I assured the teachers of the 
confidentiality of our interviews and of their anonymity, if any of the information 
gathered was ultimately used. 
Interviews with Teachers and Administrators 

Each of the participating teachers was interviewed twice. During the first interview, I 
asked them about their use of new instructional strategies and used various probes to find 
out how they learned the new techniques, if their professional development workshops 
were useful, and what additional supports and/or resources they used, or would like to 
use. I questioned the teachers about specific mandated programs and how they responded 
to and worked with mandated change. During their interviews, I asked about the degree 
to which they were involved in collaborafion with other teachers and if they found the 
conversations about teaching and learning helpful in changing their practice. I asked how 
working in teams had been effective and if teacher collaboration within the cluster system 
had been productive. 

The interview process began with a pilot study with three teachers. (See Appendix B, 
p. 121 .) After analyzing and coding these three interviews, I changed my quesfions 
somewhat because the question I used concerning implementafion of new successful 
practices or content in the last five years did not yield clear information about my 
research question. The teachers recalled strategies or classroom activities that they had 



52 

designed, but did not include actual initiatives in their school. Therefore, I changed three 
of my interview questions to ask about professional development and supports that the 
teachers found useful. I used the new questions with the second group of two 
interviewees. (See Appendix C, p. 122.) As a resuU of the responses of the second group, 
I refocused my research questions once again to ask about mandated change and 
teachers' experiences within the cluster system. 

Most of the questions remained the same in the three protocols. As I transcribed each 
of the interviews of the two pilot studies, I kept track of new questions that I had not 
asked and then questioned the individual teachers about those issues at another brief 
session. In the end, all the teachers were asked the same set of questions (see Appendix 
D, p. 123), enabling me to analyze and code the interview data equally. For the second 
interview, I asked all the teachers the same set of questions. (See Appendix E, p. 124.) If 
I were to repeat the study, I would use only the third version of the question protocol for 
the first interview and the second question protocol for the second interview. 

I designed a slightly different interview protocol for the curriculum coordinator (see 
Appendix F, p. 125) and the principal (see Appendix G, p. 126). Neither of them is a 
classroom teacher; therefore the specific questions about personal teaching strategies 
were not applicable. I asked for their points of view regarding effective professional 
development, teacher supports and the cluster system. I asked similar questions of both 
the administrators and the teachers, but asked the administrators about their observations 
of the teachers, rather than about their own practices and experiences. 

I interviewed each teacher a second time at the end of the school year to review what 
changes they had been working on, how they actually implemented the new initiatives, 



53 

and what suggestions they had for improving the process. Both the curriculum 
coordinator (see Appendix H, p. 127) and the principal (see Appendix I, p. 128) were 
interviewed a second time as well. (For a timeline of my dissertation intemews, see 
Appendix J, p. 129.) 
Observations 

I attended many of the professional development sessions offered by the school to 
observe how the teachers were being trained to use a new program or strategy, and then 
how to implement it. I requested permission to attend cluster meetings to learn about the 
agenda for the meetings and the topics about which the teachers were communicating 
with each other. I asked to be invited to observe in the classroom when the teachers were 
using any of the new initiatives they said they were working on. I observed class lessons 
to see what was actually being taught and compared it to what they discussed during their 
interviews; that is, to look at "theory-in-use", and compare it to "espoused theory" 
(Argyyris, et al., 1985). I looked for aspects of the participants' perspective that they 
may have been reluctant to state directly in an interview. I studied student scores on 
standardized tests and the state accountability test, but did not have access to teachers' 
lesson plans. 

Although qualitative researchers use interviews, observations and documents to gather 
information, each source has its limitations. Interviews may provide information about 
the motivation for actions, although the subject can only report his/her own perceptions, 
which are subject to personal bias or even lack of awareness. The emotional state of the 
subject at the time of the interview may also affect the interview data. Observations 
provide a check on what is reported during interviews. However, the observer must be 



54 

alert to take in all that is happening during the observation. Documents may be 
inaccurate or incomplete, or report only limited aspects of a program. By utilizing 
interviews, observations and documents, the researcher uses the strengths of each type of 
data collected and minimizes the weaknesses of using any single approach. 
Data Analysis 

After collecting the data, I organized what I had seen, heard and read in order to make 
sense of what I learned (Glesne & Peshkin, 1992). I created a coding scheme to make 
connections and identify patterns among the stories of the teachers. The pieces fit 
together to create an account of what works for veteran teachers in the system I studied, 
the power of professional development, the follow-up provided by the school, the attitude 
and support of colleagues, the attitude of the principal and the impact of the culture of the 
school. The attitude and dedication of the teachers to meet the needs of their students 
emerged as an additional factor. 
Personal Biases 

I have been a teacher and administrator at the middle school level for about 20 years. 
In that capacity, I gained experience and developed opinions about what works in the 
classroom and what characteristics I believe lead to successful and engaging classroom 
teaching. In conducting my research study, I was aware of the possibility of personal 
bias. Therefore, I tried diligently to enter each classroom with openness to observe each 
teacher and situation from the strength of my knowledge about teaching and learning, but 
without predetermined opinions about specific teachers or teaching strategies. As an 
administrator and student teacher supervisor, I have observed many teachers and learned 
to observe objectively, without imposing my own interpretation or bias on what I see. 



55 



iduals, grade levels 



I have learned, too, that teaching is a profession in which many personalities and 
techniques may be successful and that it is inappropriate to bring preconceived notions to 
an observation. I worked hard to remain responsive to what I saw and I asked questions 
during the interviews to learn about the teacher's objectives and the role that the 
professional development offerings had played in shaping the in-class activities. I 
studied the setting and described it, recorded events in detail and focused my questions to 
learn each teacher's story. To respect the busy life of the teacher, I scheduled the 
interviews at mutually convenient times. Most of the teachers preferred to be interviewed 
during their free periods. 

The participants in my study represented a diverse range of indi\i 
and subject areas that reduced the possibility that my conclusions would reflect my biases 
regarding teaching strategies and methods, rather than those of the tjeachers. 
Summary 

My research study was conducted using qualitative research methods, including 
interviews and observations to collect my data. I believe that the public school teachers 
with whom I worked, in the school setting in which I worked, are experiencing similar 
challenges to those being experienced by teachers in similar towns and schools all over 
the country. Therefore, what these teachers experienced and how they made meaning of 
their experiences may apply to teachers in many other school settings. By studying the 
conditions of professional development and support, school culture^ 
encouragement, and personal motivation of these teachers, I hoped i 



factors influenced these veteran teachers to implement changes in their own classrooms 



administrative 
to discover what 



56 

Chapter Four: Analysis of Data 

In this chapter, I analyze the data gathered during my interviews with ten veteran 
teachers and two administrators at the middle school level. The objective of this study is 
to answer my research question, "What are the conditions and factors that influence 
veteran teachers to change?" This chapter, organized into similar subheadings as Chapter 
2, Literature Review, contains sections on veteran teachers in a professional context, 
educational change, adult developmental psychology and adult learning. 

The chapter begins with a profile of the educators who participated in the study based 
on their voices as they described themselves and presented their stories in their own 
words. The reader will learn about the choice of some teachers to live in the same town 
in which they teach and about an additional middle school certification that some have 
earned. The activities in which teachers chose to participate in addition to their teaching 
revealed their involvement in the school. They discussed how they feel valued by the 
school and what was gratifying to them in their teaching career. Patterns began to 
emerge from the data about the conditions and factors that actually work for the veteran 
teachers in learning about and implementing change in their classroom. 

The next section focuses on the impact of change on veteran teachers. The teachers 
described their interest in not remaining stagnant, explained how they learned about the 
school's goals for change and how they set their personal goals. The organization of the 
school into six clusters, a structure intended to foster change, was described and its 
purpose explained. I then quote teachers' responses to questions about mandated change 
and individual teacher initiated change and compare the two. Comments gathered by the 
researcher from various parts of each interview follow to present teachers' opinions about 



57 

the pressures of an overwhelming change schedule. Hints at a "we/they" attitude by 
some of the teachers are noted. 

The influence of adult developmental psychology, particularly generativity, is 
discussed as it applies to middle adulthood, the age of the teachers I interviewed. The 
section following this concentrates on teachers as adult learners. They commented on 
and evaluated the professional development that was offered to them by the school and 
discussed other sources of information about teaching that they discovered. 
Voices of Veteran Teachers in a Professional Context 
Introduction to the Participants in the Study 
I interviewed twelve members of the Middle School facuUy for this study. Nine of the 
interviewees were classroom teachers and the tenth was the school librarian. The other 
two were administrators--the principal and the math/science curriculum coordinator — 
neither of whom is teaching full-time. Included were teachers of grades six, seven and 
eight in subjects of language arts, social studies, math, science and art. All were veteran 
teachers who have been teaching for twelve years or more. During that school year, all 
participated in professional development sessions presented by the school, and they 
implemented school reform programs or strategies that were mandated by the school or 
district. 

To maintain the anonymity and confidentiality of the participants in my study, I do 
not name the school and refer to the teachers by letters of the alphabet. A chart 
identifying the teachers and their characteristics may be found in Appendix K, p. 130. 



58 



Role of Teacher's Place of Residence 

Interview data : In speaking to the teachers, I learned that many of them live in the 

town in which the school is located and wondered if living in the community affected 

their school relationships. Therefore, I asked each teacher where s/he lives. Five of the 

interviewees live in town now and another three lived there in the past and now live in 

adjacent towns. When I asked about the advantages and disadvantages of living where 

you teach, I heard many responses, which are summarized by the following comments: 

B: "I think your personal life is not your personal life, you don't have a personal life 
when you teach in this town. . .In the positive sense, you know a lot more about the kids 
that are coming to you, you know a lot more about their backgrounds, so that is a really 
positive thing." 

O: "It's great to be able to pop in on a soccer game and meet them on the street and say 
hello. I enjoy that kind of interaction. I am really vested in the community which I think 
gives you credibility. You have the same issues as they do, in terms of the town." 

Interpretation : Despite complaining about the lack of boundaries in social situations, 
those teachers who have been living and teaching in the town for many years, are not 
looking for other housing at the present time. As town residents, they are aware of the 
culture of the people and share their values, are interested in maintaining the quality of its 
schools and like knowing the children they teach and their parents. Living in the town 
makes it easier to enter into relationships, especially informal ones, with parents, to the 
benefit of the students. By doing so, they have eliminated some of the barriers to 
effective parent involvement in and communication with the school. 

The teachers see an advantage in knowing their own children's teachers and friends. 
They understand the political, economic and social issues of the town and choose to raise 
their own families there. They want to continue teaching in the town where their own 
children will be educated. In subsequent answers, I learned that these teachers were 



59 

invested in their students, both academically and emotionally, and also facilitated after- 
school student clubs, during this year and in past school years. 
Level of Certification 

Interview data : Middle school students need activity-based or hands-on learning 
experiences (George, et al., 1992), usually emphasized more in elementary or middle 
school teacher preparation than in high school Therefore, I was interested in finding out 
whether the teachers I interviewed had earned their middle school certification. I 
discovered that four teachers have their K-through-12 certificafion, and eight are certified 
to teach grades 6 through 12. Of the latter group of eight, six studied for an additional 
certification to prepare them specifically for grades 5 through 9, the middle school 
certification. No teacher I interviewed had only high school certificafion, which is 
focused primarily on subject matter knowledge. 

By working to earn their certification for the middle grades, the teachers demonstrated 
their desire to meet student needs at the young adolescent stage of development. The 
Carnegie study recommends that teachers at the middle school level be those who know 
how to engage students in their subject, are able to create a simulating intellectual 
environment and a caring community. Although the standards need to be rigorous, they 
also need to be flexible to reflect both how students learn and the changes in society. 
Teacher training in new techniques attests to the fact that the school is responding to the 
Carnegie recommendations. 

Interpretation : The Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development appointed a Task 
Force on Education of Young Adolescents, which, in 1989, presented its findings in 
Turning Points: Preparing Youth for the 2P' Century. In 2000, the Carnegie Corporation 



60 

published an update, Turning Points 2000, Educating Adolescents in the 2f Century. 
Their recommendations for effective middle schools include; 

1 . "Staff middle grade schools with teachers who are expert at teaching young 
adolescents, and engage teachers in ongoing, targeted professional development 
opportunities." 

2. "Organize relationships for learning to create a climate of intellectual 
development and a caring community of shared educational purpose." 

The current recommendations include a curriculum "grounded, though not strictly 
limited to, rigorous, public standards for what students should know and be able to do, 
recognizing that standards should be flexible to reflect changes in society" (Jackson & 
Davis, 2000, p.26). The recommended curriculum should be "tied to adolescent 
concerns" and reflect current knowledge about how students learn best. The selected 
methods of instruction should enable students to achieve higher standards; for the school, 
this means placing the focus on teaching and learning. 

Another acknowledgment in the new Turning Points is that curriculum, assessment 
and instruction are intimately interrelated; they advocate a curriculum that is rigorous, 
and relevant to student concerns, assessment that demonstrates what students know and 
are able to do, and instructional methods that are applicable to the subject area and meet 
students' needs. 

Kati Haycock (2002), of the Education Trust, has pointed out that in the United States, 
our most disadvantaged students oflen have the worst teachers. The "worst teachers" are 
uncertified, inexperienced or those who do not have a degree in the subject they teach. 
To the credit of these middle school teachers, they have pursued credentials in both the 
subject matter they teach as well as the grade level of their students. Inasmuch as I 
selected teachers who have taught for 12 or more years, they are indeed experienced. 



61 

Involvement in the School Beyond Teaching 

Interview data : Turning Points stresses the importance of relationships with students 

at the middle school. To learn about teacher involvement in the life of the school and its 

students, I asked all the teachers I interviewed what they did in addition to their teaching. 

The additional roles they play are: 

A: Mentor coordinator, presents teacher workshops on two of the new school programs 
and is the teacher resource person in the building for these programs, serves on several 
school policy committees 

B: Cluster leader, advisor coordinator, runs math team, supervises a student teacher 

C: Student teacher supervisor, serves on the teacher evaluation conmiittee, former cluster 
leader 

D: Student teacher supervisor, athletic coach at the high school, plans and organizes 
grade 8 field trips, arranges for and schedules two outside Lab programs for grade 8 

E: Student teacher supervisor, cluster leader, union representative, runs an after-school 
club 

F: After-school club leader and supervisor of school dances 

G: Cluster leader, supervises a student teacher, runs an after-school club, presents 
technology workshops for teachers 

J: Former cluster leader, supervises a student teacher 

L: Cluster leader, serves on many technology committees, supervises a student intern 

Interpretation : The above teachers are gratified by the relationships they have with 

their students and are willing to invest their time and effort in the school. While it is true 

that they receive an additional stipend for running a club, the compensation is small 

relative to the amount of time involved. 



62 

Of the above teachers, the ones who live in town at the present time are B, C, E, J and 
O. As both teachers and residents of the town, they are involved and active in the overall 
activities of the school. 

Recognition by the School and the Administration 

Interview data : To learn about how the teachers viewed administrative support, I 

asked them in what ways they feel valued by the school. I did not ask if they feel valued, 

because I wanted them to think about ways in which they are made to feel valued. Most 

of the responses included receiving positive input from the administration. 

A: "I think it is important to send positive notes to teachers to certify that the office is 
cognizant of what is happening." 

B: "I am pretty lucky; I have always feh valued by whatever administration I have 
worked with because I am told that I do a good job. All I need is to be told personally, 
one-on-one, 'good job' and off I go." 

C: "There is a general tone of respectfulness, thank you for doing that. . .Write a thank 
you note. . .Asking my opinion on things. . .1 do feel they give me free rein in terms of 
what I actually do in my classroom, in terms of how I actually set up my room. I think 
that is a compliment knowing that, yes, she is going to do the job and I don't have to 
worry about it." 

M: "I feel extremely valued in this building. Most days, I receive very strong 
compliments. When I put up a new exhibit, it is very common for teachers to stop and 
tell me what a pleasant exhibit it is, how it contributes to the beautification of the 
building. I am very, very flattered by how people express it and also that people enjoy 
working with me." 

Interpretation : Teachers receive very little in terms of feedback from the adults they 

work for and with. Most administrative input comes during formal supervisory 

evaluations, and usually involves contract renewal. However, it is gratifying to know, on 

a regular basis, that you are doing a job that is appreciated and of good quality. Parents 

write notes to complain, rarely to thank or praise. Students are the most vocal in 

commenting to the teacher about what is happening in the classroom. For many teachers. 



63 

student comments are the only regular feedback they get. It appears that the 

administration needs to better understand the impact of a note of appreciation in a 

teacher's mailbox. When the relationship between the teacher and the administration is a 

good one, the teacher is more apt to agree to try new things in the classroom. 

Gratification in the Teaching Career 

At the end of the first set of interviews, I asked each teacher to discuss with me what 

is most gratifying about their teaching. Again, most teachers said the same thing; they 

are most gratified by the relationships they establish with their students. 

A: "I feel that my students like me, respect me. . .and to see positive evidence of 
growth. . .1 have a personal relationship with students." 

B: "Watching kids grow. Making a difference in a kid's life." 

C: "Just the feeling that you made kids feel good about themselves" 

D: "To share my subject, to share something that I actually love." 

E: "I think it is the relationships I develop with kids. . .1 just think that when you make a 
connection with kids and the kids are engaged and that, as people, there is a connection." 

G: "I think it is the 'eureka' aspect in the classroom. Having kids make connections 
with their own life and what is going on in the natural world. I think it is seeing the kids 
hooked on science, enthusiastic about science." 

J: "The fact that I can reach all the different levels of kids that I teach, to connect with 
them." 

M: "I really enjoy working with kids because they are all really different. The response 
I get is different, very original, very genuine." 

Interpretation : The teachers cited above are consistent in their responses regarding 
their impact on students. They want their students to love their subject and they want to 
form relationships with them. They also stated that, at the middle school level, it is 
difficuh to teach if you do not first establish a relafionship with a child. When the student 
feels that the teacher is interested in his/her well-being and success, the child tries to 



64 

please the teacher by doing good work. This is similar to what happens with teachers 
when they receive praise from an administrator. 

In his book The Courage to Teach, Parker J. Palmer (1998) states, "Good teachers 
possess a capacity for connectedness. They are able to weave a complex web of 
connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can 
learn to weave a world for themselves" (p. 11). 
The Impact of Educational Change on Veteran Teachers 

During the interviews, teachers were asked about change and how it affected them and 
their teaching practice. Their answers were emphatic, clear and consistent in their 
eagerness to remain involved and current in their teaching skills and intellectual 
engagement. 

Teacher Interest in Change 

Interview data : I asked each teacher why s/he is interested in changing his/her current 

practice. Interestingly, their answers fell into two categories. Some sought change either 

to stimulate and maintain their own interest in their discipline or to meet the needs of 

students. Others stated that they do not want to be bored, that they look forward to 

changing their teaching to keep themselves fresh, stimulated, and engaged. 

A: "Teachers are professionals, teachers need to educate themselves. . .1 am constantly 
changing. I get bored with humdrum routine practices." 

D: "I think it is internal. I enjoy learning and I enjoy sharing. I do not want to do the 
same thing for the next ten years." 

E: "The other thing is that I just like to learn. I could be a perpetual student so I love 
all that stuff." 

J: "I really don't like to keep doing the same things over and over again. Everything 
that I teach each year is completely different. . .It's just the way I am, it's just the way it 



65 



stays interesting to me. . . Just to keep it challenging and interesting for myself, I just have 
to keep changing." 

L: "You don't get bored. It makes me feel alive; it makes me feel like I'm growing, 
I'm not getting stagnant." 

In addition to keeping themselves stimulated, the teachers stated that they want to 

meet the needs of their students and expose them to the excitement of their subject area 

They made the following comments: 

A: "It is imperative to expose my kids to a variety of literature in as many ways as 
possible. I want them to experience it." 

D; "My motivation is to do something, make it interesting, make it interesting for me 
because I know if I am kind of dull and bored with what I am doing, this is a profession, 
the kids read it right into you." 

E: "Because the job has changed. It is not the same at all, the kids have changed, 
education has changed, the role of teachers, the role of families is also shifting, the 
society in general. . .Last year I had a little girl who came from Brazil, probably third 
quarter, who spoke no English and she was in my homeroom and she was in my 
geography class and I didn't know what I could do for her." 

G: "I want my students to be the best that they can be. It is a tough world out there. I 
also want them to like science." 

J: "I also think that if students aren't happy a particular year, it seems to elicit something 
from me. There are certain things that just don't work with that year's group and the next 
year, it will be something different." 

L: "Aside from me, for the kids, seeing that what I am doing is affecting kids in a 
positive way, helping them learn and helping them to carry their learning far beyond the 
middle school." 

Interpretation : All ten teachers reported that they enjoy learning and want to feel 

stimulated by their work; therefore, they do not want to teach the same way year after 

year. They want to keep their students involved and engaged in their subject area and 

they also want their students to love their subject, whether they teach science, literature or 

geography. 



66 

Nine of those interviewed stated that change was necessary because the world has 
changed and their students have changed. Because they aspire to meet the needs of their 
students, teachers often have to learn new ways to present the material they are teaching. 
An important motivation is their desire to have a positive impact on their students. 
Learning About the School's Goals and Plan for Change 

The teachers I interviewed explained that they learned about the district's and school's 

goals for change from "a large white loose-leaf notebook" they received at the beginning 

of the school year. The packet lists the goals for the year and describes the professional 

development opportunities to meet those goals. The packet states clearly that: 

The uUimate goal of professional development is to enhance the quality of 
education provided for students through the improvement of instruction. 
Professional development refers to those activities that enable an educator to 
maintain professional skills and retain state certification, remain current with new 
developments in the field, continue to broaden his/her professional repertoire, and 
adjust to a change in job focus. 

The professional development workshops planned for each school building are listed 

in the "white notebook", are offered on Early Release Days or Staff Days and are 

required for all teachers. Also included is the "Teachers as Scholars" program, a 

voluntary offering that offers additional lectures or seminars to enable teachers to 

"enhance professional skills and knowledge". During the last school year, there were 93 

individual seminars offered to teachers in a range of areas such as, math, science and 

technology, interdisciplinary studies, philosophy and religion, literature, fine arts, history 

and Afi-ican studies. Teachers who take mini-courses given by professors from area 

colleges, can earn professional development points (PDPs) toward recertification. A 

school Professional Development Council, comprised of administrators and teachers, 

meets monthly to work on the program offerings, to develop and update evaluation 



67 



instruments and to communicate to the public and the staff about the programs to be 
offered. 

Interpretation: The district makes an effort to offer teachers a wide range of 
opportunities to grow in their profession and to follow-up on personal interests. During 
the interviews, I learned that few teachers at the middle school took advantage of the 
additional offerings because there are so many required workshops for them to attend. 
The workshops offered by the school are designed to meet district goals; teachers 
reported that they have little discretionary time to attend additional seminars. 
Identification of School Goals 

Interview data : At the second interview, I asked all the teachers what "is the major 
goal for all the professional development" for the year and what did the "school want to 
accomplish with its professional development." I stated the question in two ways to 
make it clear that I wanted a "big picture" goal statement for the school district. A 
statement in the professional development packet given to all teachers at the beginning of 
each school year articulates as a goal ". . .to enhance the quality of education provided for 
students through the improvement of instruction." In answer to my question, three 
teachers referred to differentiated instruction, another two stated the school search for a 
model to use for school reform for next year, three said keeping current with new 
teaching techniques, one addressed interdisciplinary planning for clusters. J said, "to 
help teachers work together to improve their teaching. Better education for all the 
students who attend the public schools." E added, "To meet the needs of all kids." 

The principal answered, "... how does it match up to the standards, and then, taking 
that a step flirther, to look at the design of instruction that meets the needs of all students 



68 

which is taken from the district plan for improvement." During the second interview, the 
principal added, "We want to continue to work on finding solutions to helping all kids to 
be successful." 

Interpretation : While each teacher commented on one of the action items to meet the 
goals of the district, only two teachers stated that meeting the needs of all kids was the 
major overarching goal of the district reform effort. The teachers felt that they were 
fulfilling the goals of the district if they implemented differentiated instruction and 
assessments. The goals, as articulated by these teachers, seemed to reinforce the idea that 
somehow teachers are deficient and, if they improve how or what they teach, things will 
be better in the school. 

The school district states clearly that the major goal of the school is to improve 
learning for all the students, to find ways to make all children succeed. If this goal can be 
reached by implementing a new program, then teachers need to learn to do that. They do 
not need to change simply for the sake of doing something different. They need to 
change their practice to help all students learn more effectively and successfully. 

The principal is a crucial player in the reform effort. The principal, new to the school 

during the year of my study, said. 

The other critical piece, before you move forward and jump in, is that you need to 
have a trust relationship with staff— to me, that's the core. If you don't have a 
good working relationship where there is a level of trust that will allow for 
growth, then you can bring in all the programs you want and they are not going to 
work. Teachers who aren't invested, don't feel they are listened to or don't feel 
they have had any opportunity to have any input, they're not going to buy in. 

With this perception, the principal can be expected to include teachers in making 

decisions about the need for change and a choice of the program(s) to accomplish the 

desired change(s). 



69 



Cluster System, a School Structure for Change 

The clusters have been meeting daily for two years only and they have evolved group 
responses to support students who present disciplinary problems or who have academic 
difficulties. During the first year, some cluster members came to the meetings rather 
reluctantly, always asking if the meeting was actually going to be held. In the current 
school year, they are participating more in a joint search for better ways to address the 
emotional and academic needs of their students. Change takes time. 

Interview data : In order to clarify the teachers' perception of the reason for 

establishing cluster groups, I asked teachers to explain to me their understanding of 

purpose of the clusters. 

A: "Kids and teachers get to know each other much better. Teachers see this kid in 
their classroom setting only and they learn how their peers see the kid too. They have a 
team approach to the kids. . .The pupil to teacher ratio is smaller, kids can go to a team 
member for support and that team knows the kid better. Kids get help faster and there is 
more familiarity." 

C: "With the cluster system, you have cluster planning time so you have time to talk 
and share." 

E: "It was to make small teams who would deal with a specific group of kids and I 
think know them better, also probably to do more integration. Basically to organize the 
school into small units responsible for a smaller number of kids who they would then get 
to know well and work together." 

Interpretation : Nine of the interviewees stated that the clusters were established to 

care for the needs, both academic and social, of their students. They said that, within the 

clusters, it was possible to get to know a smaller group of kids, support them more 

effectively and work together as a group to accomplish this goal. They also thought the 

time was to be used for developing interdisciplinary units together. No one stated an 



70 

expectation for the clusters to be involved in the implementation of school change. 
Therefore, no one worked to make that happen. 

A goal must be clearly stated and explained before there can be any movement in the 
direction of achieving that goal. Among the teachers I interviewed, no teacher mentioned 
that working together toward change was an expectation of the clusters. Only one 
teacher, J, stated an opinion that the cluster meetings were "custodial." She was 
impatient with the "nuts and bohs" work of the cluster and wanted it to include 
discussions of teaching strategies and student learning, and how to make the two more 
compatible. All the other teachers talked about meeting students' emotional, behavioral 
and academic needs. It appeared that they were beginning to succeed in attaining those 
goals by working together as a team within the cluster structure. 
How to Improve the Clusters 

Interview data: Clusters are important structures for school functioning and teachers 

met with their cluster groups each day. To learn about their thinking, I asked the teachers 

for suggestions to improve the clusters. 

A: " I don't like the cluster system. We have to meet five times each week. It would be 
better if we only met twice a week. We can touch base at the beginning of the week, 
what's coming up, dates, what's happening. Discuss kids with particular issues in all the 
classes, or only just one, any home issues that impact kids. . .The team leader should be 
chosen by the members of the cluster, not by the administration; that will give them the 
support and comfort of their team leaders. Rotate the leadership among the members of 
the cluster." 

D: "The idea of it being helpful, it is the personality piece that is the hardest piece. I 
think that is a challenge for the administration to know how to match us up." 

E: "I think the ideal would be to be able to pick the people you would like to work with. 
But given my druthers, there are people with whom I would love to work with. . .1 think 
we need more training on how to facilitate the team meetings beyond kid and parent 
issues and nitty-gritty issues. I don't think we really know how to work with curriculum 
on the teams. I think we need help with that." 



71 



G: "Unfortunately the way the clusters are put together, it is not always the right 
personalities working together. I think that is somewhat of a key goal that the 
administration should be looking at." 

J: "The cluster leaders are still wearing both hats, the team leaders are still teachers in 
the classroom and now they are in a leadership position too. There is too much to do for 
the team leader position for one person and yet only that one person gets the pay so I 
think there is a kind of awkwardness in terms of delegating things. It gets complicated. . . 
I think having somebody coming in from the outside and mandating, saying you've got to 
be sharing student's work, you've got to be doing some interdisciplinary work, you have 
got to be communicating more about learning styles, things like that. I think that might 
be wonderful, is going to help. I think also, at the beginning of the year a better job needs 
to be done, of establishing norms, these are our goals for the year as a cluster, this is how 
we are going to communicate with each other, we are going to be more open, with 
attitudes and prejudices out in the open." 

L: "Basically, the major problem is that the schedule works against us. We don't have 
the same kind of relationship as the other clusters because we don't have the same group 
of kids and we are not doing any kind of common planning. It is a whole different 
dynamic." 

Interpretation: When I asked teachers what they would do to improve the clusters, 

three talked about the difficulty of matching compatible personalities in each cluster. 

They stated that personality traits need to be considered in the process of cluster 

formation. Compatibility with cluster members would enable them to work together 

more successfially. The teachers found fault with the administration for the actual 

composition of the cluster groups, rather than looking to themselves and to each other to 

improve the level of cooperation among the cluster members. Next year, with the 

Turning Point coaches, the cluster leaders are scheduled to learn how to facilitate 

meetings and the teachers will work on setting common goals. The intent is to make the 

teams more compatible with regard to goals and expectations and to teach them how to 

work together. 



72 

Another teacher, a former cluster leader, indicated that the leader has too much 
responsibility. Only the cluster leader receives a stipend for the position; therefore it is 
awkward to ask others to share the work and, in fact, many of the other teachers do not 
want to accept additional responsibility. This teacher, J, wanted to set additional goals 
for the year, that of teachers working together to look at student work and talk about 
learning styles. To do this, school norms need to be changed in order to instruct teachers 
about how to be more open with one another. The transition into the administrative 
position of cluster leader from that of classroom teacher is a challenge for which 
additional training is necessary. 

Interviewee A suggested that the position of leadership rotate among the team 
members. Another teacher commented that it would be impossible to get ani^hing done 
if the leadership changed yearly. By the time the cluster leader became effective as a 
leader, a portion of the school year would have already passed. 

How to Use the Clusters as a Vehicle for Change 

Interview data : The following teacher responses derive from a question about the 

helpfulness of the cluster system in implementing change: 

C: "I like the cluster period, I think it is a nice break from kids where you just sit and 
talk and you have your coffee. . .1 think the nice part about the cluster is if you have a kid 
that you are having difficulty with, or who is under-performing or whatever the case, you 
can say, the child isn't doing anything for me and they say, me either and all of a sudden, 
you have got on the table, and you say, it is not just me. There is that support there that 
you don't have without a cluster." 

D. "The cluster shares the same kids. We do some interdisciplinary projects together." 

J: "Even though we do meet every single day as a cluster I have to say that I think our 
cluster meetings are custodial. I do not think our meetings are as focused on teaching and 
learning as they could be. They are kind of nuts and bohs...I would love it if we could 
spend more time talking about things we are doing at work. If each person had a day a 
week when they were expected to say, I've been doing such and such and I am really 



73 

happy about it, things are working better... Ideally the cluster system should be planning, 
we should be doing interdisciplinary projects, we also should be working together so as 
not to overload the students that we share. In those two areas, the cluster that I am in, we 
haven't done a single thing, it is really more disciplinary. [I]t doesn't seem like it has 
changed our communication. We haven't looked at a single student's work." 

L: "[IJnstead of having to talk to one teacher at a time, it gets me to the team so I can hit 
a whole bunch of teachers at the same time. In a meeting, I can have access to a team of 
teachers rather than trying to make connections with everyone." 

Interpretation : In June, at the end of the period of my teacher interviews, after a year 
of teacher visits to other schools and discussions about what they observed, in June the 
faculty voted to use the Turning Points model as their model for school reform for the 
upcoming year. The district will provide funding and coaches for the implementation of 
the structures of Turning Points. One of the new goals for the clusters is to use meeting 
time to examine students' work and to discuss the challenges of implementing new 
initiatives. The task of the coaches will be to train the cluster leaders to plan meetings, 
set an agenda and deal with substantive issues. The coaches will work with the cluster 
members to teach them to work together as a team and to share information about student 
learning. 

In this way, the clusters will be able to give more support to the implementation of 
school or teacher-generated initiatives. The coaches will work with the school to 
articulate an expanded role for the clusters, that of being involved in the improvement of 
instruction to meet the needs of the students. The principal stated that, "the [cluster] 
meeting needs to be structured so that it is not just complaints and it doesn't go 
anywhere." In the past two years, when clusters had daily meetings to work together, 
many have developed trusting and supportive relationships and may now be ready to 
embrace new and expanded roles. 



74 

Observation data : The cluster of the specialists meets at 7:00a.m,, before classes 
begin for the day. Inasmuch as they teach while the other clusters are having their 
meetings, the specialists' cluster is unable to confer with the other teachers to plan ways 
to integrate the specials into the various subject areas. On the other hand, the librarian, 
who is the team leader, claimed that one advantage of cluster groups is the opportunity 
for the specialist to meet with all the teachers in a cluster at the same time, allowing her 
to more easily initiate services or activities for that team. 

Interpretation : The difficulty with the specialists' cluster is the school schedule, not 
the relationships. During my first year at the school, I observed that most of the 
specialist's team meetings were gripe sessions in which the members expressed their 
frustration about being marginal to the life of the school. In my second year of 
observations, the members started to talk about how to express a unity of purpose as a 
cluster, to communicate positive publicity about the work they do and to present awards 
from the cluster at the grade level school awards assemblies. They have much more work 
to do before they become a cohesive team, able to integrate more effectively into the life 
of the school, but they have made a start. 

Two Approaches to School Change 
In looking at how ideas for school change are generated, I found both top-down and 
bottom-up initiatives occurring in this setting. A district-or-school generated change is a 
top-down or mandated change, such as John Collins Writing and differentiated 
instruction and assessment. On the other hand, programs that come from the teachers' 
work and experience with students or their search for better ways to teach constitutes 
bottom-up or teacher initiated change, such as the eighth grade science teachers' "Moon 



75 



Dance" to teach phases of the moon and the World's Fair for sixth grade geography. 
Mandated Change 

Interview data : I asked the teachers how they deal with mandated change; what they 

do make it their own when the district legislates that a change be adopted. Most of the 

teachers responded that they make modifications to meet the needs of the class they are 

teaching or their subject matter. 

A: "I take my experience and try to match the diversity in the classroom. I take the risk, 
implement the mandate, make the changes that I feel are in the best interests of my kids." 

B: "After the training and even while I am doing it, I already start, in my head, figuring 
out how I am going to use it, where I will use it, what I will do with it. I try to make it 
my own. I try to revamp it to fit my style, where I think it is going to fit in the 
curriculum. . .When you are not invested in something, when you are not excited about it, 
it's not worth it. That's why this mandated stuff I don't think works, because when you 
are forced to do something and it is not of your choosing, you don't want to do it, then 
your effort and your determination are not there." 

C: "I think it is just by working through it, with your own kids in your own room." 

D: "I try to make it fit into my curriculum in science." 

E: "I do make it my own in the sense that I think everybody has to tweak things a little 
bit to fit their own style so some of what I have done is to take what I have already done 
and just change it so it fits the requirements." 

F: "But there is always something about the change, no matter how negative it is, that 
you can use in the classroom. That is what I look for." 

G: "Most of this stuff is not a change, it is putting a label on something that is usually 
already being done. They call it by a fancy name." 

J: "I guess I try to think about, try to find what is worthwhile about that change and try 
to find something in it that makes sense to me in terms of improving the overall 
instruction that we are using." 

During classroom observations, I was able to see how each teacher interpreted a 
change initiative in a unique way. Several illustrations follow. G described several ways 
in which he adapted new initiatives to meet his teaching style and classroom needs. G 



76 

attended Backwards Design workshops at the school and used the techniques he learned 
to establish an enrichment group in his class. He pretested all the students, those who 
demonstrated a depth of knowledge in the new topic were excused from the unit and 
permitted to choose their own topic of study. They were able to pursue the new topic 
doing their own experiments during class time, or doing research in the library. By 
differentiating his instruction, using Backwards Design to identify the eligible students 
and then encouraging them to work independently, he felt that he was satisfying the 
requirements of several of the new techniques at once. 

As a science teacher, G found that the John Collins Writing requirement, a mandated 
school initiative, mimics what he had already been doing. He was able to provide a 
comparison for each of the writing types to a process that he had always included in his 
curriculum. John Collins, as a mandated change, was introduced to include writing 
across the curriculum. For G, it was something he had always done. On the other hand, 
although teacher D responded that he too had always given writing assignments, he 
complained that the amount of time to grade the writing mandated by John Collins was 
punitive. 

Interpretation: Each teacher expressed the same sentiment. When they receive 
training for an initiative, they "tweak" the change so that it reflects their style and is 
appropriate to their subject and the needs of their students. Even if each teacher instituted 
the same reform, it would look different in every classroom, depending on the specific 
subject and the style of the teacher. 

When they are working with a new initiative, such as differentiated instruction and 
assessment and Japanese Lesson Study, teachers will look for ways to adapt the change to 



77 



reflect their own unique teaching approach. They often make changes to provide for the 
diversity of learners in their classroom and create opportunities for all students to learn 
and express themselves using their "multiple intelligences" (Howard Gardner, 1983; 
Armstrong, 1994). 

In this setting, a teaching coach, or curriculum coordinator, available full-time in the 
school to address problems that arise during implementation, is present to assist the 
teacher when something is not working. If there is no one there to help and encourage 
the teacher during a difficulty, there is a strong likelihood that the teacher will revert to a 
formerly used method that is known, comfortable and previously successful. No teacher 
chooses to feel inadequate or unskilled in front of a class of students. 

It is important for the school to remember that it must be flexible with the means used 
to implement a change while remaining true to the goals of the change. (Ancona, et al., 
1999) When implementing a change, invariably other challenges arise necessitating 
dealing with unexpected consequences. For example, while working with Japanese 
Lesson Study, the teachers had to learn to plan a lesson together and also to actually 
observe in the classroom of a colleague, both stress&l and new to teachers' usual method 
of functioning. The reality of change is that it necessitates both flexibility and 
perseverance. The administration and the faculty must adjust to a new way of doing 
things while accommodating the unexpected changes that arise in response to the new 
idea that is being implemented. It takes perseverance to address the new problems while 
modifying the innovation in order to sustain the change. In the process the teacher must 
be creative and adaptable. 



78 

Interview data : C stated, ". . .they are certainly good about giving us workshop time, 
allowing us to devise our own workshops, after-school study groups and things like that." 
Although there are lots of innovations being asked of the teachers, there are also many 
opportunities for training. The major complaint was that "there needs to be follow-up 
because too much of mandated change, it seems, they put it in place and then it 
disappears into oblivion, it dies its own death and resurfaces as something else." B said, 
"Instead of doing one thing and doing it well, we are doing ten things and hardly doing 
them well." A expressed a sentiment that many people alluded to less directly. "I hate 
the word mandate. I don't think anyone wants to be told what to do." 

Interpretation : If a change that the teacher has worked hard to implement in the 
classroom and integrate successfully into his/her teaching repertoire, disappears when the 
next innovation surfaces, the teacher will show little or no enthusiasm for working on the 
next change. The key to success depends on teacher agreement with the necessity for a 
new way of doing something, that the new way is the resuh of teacher or administrative 
research whose success can be evaluated. If successful, it should be continued and 
supported; if not, it should be modified or discontinued. 
Teacher Initiated Change 

Interview data : In discussing new programs during the interviews, sometimes a 
teacher talked about a specific change in practice that s/he had found or designed and 
implemented. Talking about their own practice, they seemed more animated and 
enthusiastic than when they were describing specific changes that had been mandated. 
The ideas may have come to them while attending a conference or reading a journal, or 



79 



may have been generated from their own classroom experience. Some examples will 
illustrate my point: 

A: "I like to give students lots of choices. I like a student-centered classroom. Kids lack 
opportunities to make choices — give them voice and choice. Literature circles are very 
structured programs, but the kids can run the show. It meets the goal of making them 
lifelong learners. I liked it, and thought I'd give it a shot." 

B: "And I still remember those classes, it was so motivating, so exciting." B went to a 
conference and found several units that she could "really dig my feet into. That is my 
criteria, if it grabs me and excites me and my mind is going six different ways on how to 
do this, what can I do with this. If I am motivated, I think I can motivate the kids. . And 
the statistics one kind of ran all year long where they covered the Patriots, the Cehics and 
the Red Sox. At the end of the year, we took the kids to a Red Sox game. We went to 
the game and had sheets. The kids had to report everything that happened in the game. 
We had people around us saying they couldn't believe these kids dug their feet into doing 
this work during the game. They had been doing it all year and were invested in it and I 
loved that." 

F: "Actually I came up with the idea for the poetry myself I've gone to workshops 
where professors show you how children can write poetry and they do, they really do 
write poetry. I am amazed. When I first started teaching, it was a struggle to do poetry 
with all the rhyming sing-songy stuff, but with the advent of all the new poets and free 
verse and stuff, they really do like it. I keep telling them that all music is poetry." 
After observing a class, I met with F who asked me to read examples of the poetry that 
her students wrote. She was proud of their work and of her role in instructing and 
inspiring them to write. 

J: "I think another practice [of mine] would be something that has come to me from [my 
own] teaching. I think about how students produce things, just for the sake of producing 
them. They are much less valuable for everybody than if there was some kind of 
interaction. . . There's just something about it, an added interest, it is very motivating. It is 
more than just them doing something for me and for me to just grade it and put it into my 
grade book and that is the end of it. That is just something that I have learned from 
teaching." 

J described several projects that she had done with her classes; for example, writing 
children's books, interviewing a grandparent about immigrating to this country, or 
making a travel brochure to illustrate her point about what works for her students and 
how she generates excitement for a class assignment. 

Interpretation : There was a marked difference in the tone and expression of the 

teachers between describing a mandated change and one that they themselves had chosen 

and instituted. In each example, the teacher sounded excited and, as B said, "invested in 



80 

it." It made a difference that the teacher made his/her own choice and found a strategy or 
a unit that seemed exciting. The teacher enjoyed thinking about how to present the new 
material and to make it engaging for the class. The motivation for adoption was either 
teacher excitement about tlie possibilities of the new material or the fact that it met the 
needs of the class. 

The same motivation applied across subject areas, whether it was geography, math or 
language arts. The personal investment of the teacher seemed instrumental in generating 
student enthusiasm, which, in turn, further motivated the teacher to improve the program. 
All the above illustrations were not a 'top-down' imposition of a program, but rather a 
teacher initiated change. Teachers felt empowered to choose what was most effective for 
their current class, age-appropriate for their students and resonated with their own 
teaching styles. 

Overwhelming Change Schedule 

Interview data : In my second interview with the teachers, I asked each, "If you were 

emperor of the school reform effort, what would you do differently?" Their responses 

were similar: slow down, and do a better job with implementation before going on to the 

next initiative. Some of the teachers' statements follow: 

A: "I would simplify. Many people are scurrying in so many directions to satisfy all the 
reforms. What do they want us to do to reach the goals? Make the goals more realistic." 

B: "I think part of why there are problems is too many mandated programs. Instead of 
doing one thing and doing it well, we are doing ten things and hardly doing them well." 

C: "I do feel that every year there is something different, whether it is the social studies 
curriculum or standards changing every year. I just feel like sometimes the reformers are 
not even sure of which way they are going. I think sometimes we are just bombarded." 

D: "Every year there is something new and we are overwhelmed. , .If I am overwhelmed, 
what does the second or third year teacher feel?" 



E: "Bottom line, if you have a successflil program support it financially over time. I 
would do one thing at a time. I would make sure that whatever we start to put in place 
that there would be evaluation, follow-up, etc. I would not start another reform on top of 
it. That is what has happened here. We have one reform on another on another and some 
of them just disappear and we never know what happened to them. If I was (sic) in 
charge, I would focus on certain things. I would see them through to fruition and then I 
would look to see what else would enhance what we have already." 

J: " I would figure out a way to bring parents into the picture, to bring the community 
more into the school." 

L: "We need a change in culture; that is a real challenge. I think the culture has to be 
changed so people appreciate and respect what everybody else is doing." 

Interpretation : Changing an initiative before teachers are comfortable with it 
undermines the old as well as the new one. If a teacher anficipates that a new initiative 
will stay in place for only one or two years, s/he may not try to improve or become 
comfortable with it. Why invest the effort? It is stressful to experiment with a new 
program, to figure out how to best adapt the new approach to one's own teaching style, 
and to one's students' learning needs and interests. Once they become comfortable and 
skilled using the new program and another one comes along to replace it, teachers will 
undoubtedly wonder if the effort was wasted. Then, when the next new program comes 
along, the teachers may question whether they should apply themselves to do the work 
necessary to adapt and perfect it to make it their own. Instead, teachers may choose to 
give the next initiative lip service and wait for it to go away, rather than to try it 
wholeheartedly. 

One teacher spoke about including the parent body. Parents are needed to advocate 
for the school, to support the budget during town elections, to supervise the work that is 
assigned to their children and to volunteer at the school when help is needed. Too often 
at the middle school level, parents feel unwelcome, both because of the growing 



82 



independence of their own children and also because of the departmental system that 
includes a large number of subject area teachers. If the parents had understood the 
disruption caused by the decision to delay the continuation of block scheduling, perhaps 
they would have been a positive force in the community to augment the budget and to 
support the teachers. To entice them back into the school, parents can be invited to attend 
presentations of class projects to give the students a real audience for their work and/or 
asked to share their own applicable experiences with classes. 

Observation data : One example of a change that was not supported involved a 
scheduling change for sixth grade. One year ago, sixth grade teachers were asked to 
implement double block scheduling for language arts. They resisted the change until they 
received training and actually tried it themselves in their classrooms. At the end of the 
school year, they jBreely admitted that the new teaching schedule was very effective. In 
the second year, they looked forward to perfecting what they had done. 

However, for the next year, because of a state budget cut and a school population 
decline, the teachers were asked to return to single teaching blocks. When they were 
outspoken about their disappointment, they were told that it was a one-year problem. 
They stated that they felt manipulated, as if all the work they had done to implement the 
new program was wasted and that they had to figure out once again, how to use time in 
the classroom effectively for their students. 

Interpretation : The school expected the teachers to make two significant changes in 
classroom time allocation in two years, first to a new double block schedule and then 
back to the old timing. The teachers also realized that the new way was more satisfactory 
and that the second change back to the original way was a one year only change. 



83 

Although it was an expedient solution to a situation that was generated by conditions over 

which the school had no control, what happened is a disconnect between theory and 

practice and resulted in predictable teacher frustration and their questioning of 

administrative judgment. 

We/They Attitude 

Interview data : When decisions about new initiatives and professional development 

are made without input from teachers, an attitude often develops that separates the 

administration from the faculty, a we/they attitude. Responsibility and blame are 

attributed to the administration when the faculty does not have input into decision making 

or implementation. Although I did not ask any specific questions about administrative 

decision making, I heard negative comments about top-down decision making and 

teacher overload. 

B: "It is mammoth what we have to accomplish. I think instead of centering in on one 
particular thing, we have more initiatives than you can possibly deal with." 

C: I think the [administrator] really wants it, this is their baby, they've done research or 
they claim the research says that it will help kids to improve. . . Something else they want 
us to implement for next year is ..." 

D: "I find with professional development it is more of, you will do this, and do it this 
way. . . You have got to be excited and I think the way you are excited is by doing 
something you are interested in. . .1 think there is too much going on. They just won't 
stop." 

E: "In nine years, I have taught three different things, all different because the 
frameworks change." 

J: "We are at a point now where we keep shifting. We will have a program and it will be 
okay and the next time, we have another program, it won't seem to be very connected to 
the one before." 

Interpretation : The teachers expressed complaints about the volume of work they 
were being asked to do. They had not been involved in choosing many of the initiatives 



84 

and therefore, they felt less connected to the choice. They admitted that they need to be 
excited by and interested in a program to invest the amount of effort needed to learn 
something new and then to implement it effectively. Many felt overwhelmed by so many 
changes. When teachers use the term "they" to refer to the originators of the reform 
effort, they are making a separation between themselves and the other. No teacher 
objected to having to implement a new program; what they seemed to be complaining 
about was the amount of change, the constant change and having the change imposed on 
them with little or no input. 
The Influence of Adult Developmental Psychology 

Middle Adulthood: Relational Theory and Generativity 

Interview data : Of the twelve people I interviewed, three were male veteran teachers. 
To follow up on my investigation of feminist adult psychology, I compared the answers 
of the male interviewees to each other, and to those of the females. One male spoke 
about inviting the assistant principal to visit his class; another was sufficiently self- 
confident to go to the principal to express dissatisfaction with a new program and to 
refuse to continue with it. All three were busy pursuing activities and interests outside of 
teaching. One has outside business plans, one is an athletic coach and the other presents 
teacher workshops outside of school and will present at a national conference during the 
summer. Two have student teachers in their classrooms almost every year. 

Interpretation: The relational model of development states that women grow and 
develop by remaining connected throughout their lives and males grow by establishing 
independence and autonomy. The above interview examples demonstrate the 
independence of two of the three males who pursue interests outside of their teaching. 



85 

Despite their independence, both state that it is important to them for their students to Hke 
their subject. The third is a cluster leader who spoke about his relationships with both his 
colleagues and his students. In his middle adulthood, this third male has established close 
relationships to those with whom he works, both teachers and students. 

In middle adulthood, people often express an interest in generativity, that is, teaching 
the next generation. All three of the males I interviewed demonstrated their interest in 
"generativity" as described by Erikson (1950). Two regularly have student teachers and, 
therefore, are involved directly in preparing the next generation of teachers. Two present 
workshops and provide follow-up support for new and veteran teachers in an area of their 
expertise. One did a summer research project on working together with another teacher 
in the room as co-teachers. 

With the exception of one very assertive male I interviewed, I did not find any 
substantive differences in attitude between the males and the females I interviewed 
toward their students or colleagues. 
The Influence of Adult Learning Theory 
Teacher Training for Change 

Educational research tells us that teachers, as aduU learners, need to have a range of 
conditions present to learn effectively. Therefore, I asked many questions during my 
interviews about how teachers learn new content and techniques for teaching and how 
they are supported by the school during the learning process and the implementation of 
change. 



86 

Effective Professional Development 

Interview data : One of the objectives of this study was to find out if the professional 
development presented to teachers was effective to motivate them to implement change 
initiatives. In order to learn about professional development that works for the teachers, I 
asked them to discuss with me the kinds of professional development they think is really 
good. Teachers reported a range of preferred and effective professional development, as 
follows: 

o Presentations done in small groups, "it is easier to learn new things that way" 

o More one-on-one interactions, collaboration with other teachers 

o Some specific activity or idea to bring back to the classroom that has an impact on 

students 
o Staff initiated workshops that are beneficial to people in the classroom 
o Investigation of other school systems regarding scheduling, arts program and 

community involvement 
o Opportunities to observe at other schools and talk to their teachers 
o Study of a model and implementing it with ongoing support 
o Individual conversations with teachers, "sharing is really important" 
o Detailed explanation of the purpose of a project and follow-through, with support, 

until it is perfected 
o Modeling as a way to learn best by seeing something new done by someone else 

Interpretation: Teachers' responses were consistent with the findings of Malcolm 
Knowles (1984). Teachers want to learn things that will be applicable to their practice 
and help them to improve immediately. They want to have something "to take back to 
school" with them. This may be difficult when teachers from varied disciplines and 
grades meet together. Teachers report that they learn by collaborating with their peers, in 
small groups or one-on-one. 

Observation data : At the middle school, some of the professional development 
sessions have been scheduled for teachers of the same discipline and even of the same 
grade. I observed professional development in which all the math teachers met with a 



87 

trained facilitator to learn about Japanese Lesson Study. There were five teachers at the 
session and they discussed areas of math that are difficult for their students. They 
decided together to focus on fractions, decimals and percents. They wanted to design a 
lesson to engage student interest, and to be differentiated to meet varied student ability. 
In contrast to how they normally prepare class lessons, teachers had to learn how to plan 
together. One teacher (not a veteran) volunteered to teach while the others observed and 
then critiqued the lesson. 

The lesson they planned was to set up a classroom restaurant. The students worked in 
small groups; their task was to order a full meal, calculate the check total, the sales tax 
and the tip and then to divide the total cost among the group members. To differentiate 
the lesson, menus were gathered from different types of actual area restaurants. Students 
with difficulty in math were able to work with lower priced menus and therefore, smaller 
numbers. They all had the same task, and got practice in addition and division of 
decimals and calculating percents. They had to work cooperatively in their groups and 
explain in their journals their decisions about which operations to use and how they did 
the computation. The teachers met several times to plan the lesson, divide the 
preparatory tasks, observe the lesson and work together again to strengthen what they 
thought was weak and to keep what was successful. 

Interpretation : Although time and a facilitator were assigned to the math teachers to 
learn how to design a lesson together and then improve it, the teachers do not have plans 
to continue the process on a regular basis. They stated that they learned a lot fi-om the 
planning, observation and critique. They also commented that the method was time- 
consuming and, unless they get more planning time, they will not be able to do many 



88 

such lessons. The enthusiasm of the group in planning and the thoughtful analysis of the 
lesson were examples of the benefits of group collaboration. The anxiety about being 
observed, expressed by the presenting teacher, indicated a need for more openness among 
teachers, more modeling of lessons for each other and more classroom visits. 

Despite the fact that the collaborative process resulted in an outstanding lesson, the 
school structures do not allow it to be part of regular planning practice. Although two 
teachers of the same grade and subject are able to meet together during cluster time, they 
rarely discuss specific lessons or teaching strategies, nor do they observe each other 
teach. The habits of the teachers would have to change to accommodate mutual visits as 
well as conversations about teaching strategies and approaches. At the present time, each 
teacher is an independent entity, in charge of his/her own class. The cultural norm does 
not include collaboration and sharing, common planning or mutual classroom 
observations. 

Observation data : In my role as University liaison, I met with two teachers of the 
same subject and grade to differentiate instruction for one unit. The eighth grade science 
teachers chose genetics because they planned to teach that unit to their classes before the 
end of the school year. We met four times during cluster curriculum time. At the 
meetings, we gathered suggestions for differentiating activities to meet the needs of 
students with varied academic levels and learning styles, and produced a resource manual 
for teachers to use and augment. We determined the core knowledge for all students, the 
supports for the students who needed them and the extensions for those students who 
learn more quickly. The teachers shared their ideas and materials openly, were grateful 
to be able to express themselves honestly and to receive new materials from each other. 



89 

Again, there are no plans to create a second unit together nor for the teachers to visit each 
other's classrooms to observe the effects of specific classroom techniques. 

Interview data : When I asked the principal about good professional development, she 
responded that you "must identify best practice and ask those people to demonstrate." 
Training for integrating technology into the curriculum was done by "identifying staff 
who already have the hang of this and can then work with their colleagues on it." The 
opinion of the principal is consistent with that of the teachers; as a result, more teacher- 
led workshops can be anticipated. The curriculum coordinator stated that, "the presenter 
should either be somebody who is in the classroom or very recently was in the 
classroom — teacher-to-teacher." Using teachers to present workshops brings authentic 
experience to other classroom teachers; their questions about classroom procedure can be 
answered using the presenter's own recent experiences and is generally useful and less 
threatening. There was great consistency in all the responses. 

Another comment merits further discussion: 

E: 'TSlot all professional development is good. We hold on to a lot of programs 
because they are current or because we get grant money and you take advantage of 
the grant money. I think we need to focus more on certain things and do them well 
and give time for them to play out and truly evaluate them." 

Interpretation: The above advice is crucial for maintaining teacher interest and 

enthusiasm for change initiatives. The reason for continuing to use a program is to 

identify a more effective way to address student needs or to improve and correct an 

existing problem. A new program must be given a fair trial, including supports needed 

by teachers to learn how to implement it effectively, independent of grants. Veteran 

teachers can usually determine, after a short trial, whether a program is meeting the needs 



90 

of their students. It should be acceptable to admit an error and to stop using a program 
that is unsuccessful. 

Additional Sources of Professional Development 

Interview data : Teachers have access to professional development in addition to the 

workshops offered at school. To learn about additional outside sources to which teachers 

go for training, I asked them to share with me their own sources of professional 

development. I was given a lengthy list, as follows: 

o Read professional literature and journals. 

o Take applicable courses at area colleges or museums. 

o Attend professional conferences in my subject area. 

o Use the resources of the Internet; there are "spectacular sites for science." 

o Network with colleagues who attend conferences or courses. 

o Visit other schools and network with teachers who are teaching the same subject. 

o Participate in voluntary subject matter groups to discuss pertinent issues and share 

appropriate demonstrations. 
o Attend summer workshops on specific topics, particularly if they are offered at a 

location that the class will be studying about (in social studies). 

Interpretation : The teachers had many suggestions for how to enhance their 
knowledge of teaching and for gathering ideas to use with their classes. Flexibility is 
needed for an individual teacher to pursue additional education in an area of interest, or to 
learn new strategies. This can be accomplished by setting aside a personal professional 
development budget that is available to each teacher to meet his/her goals. People in their 
middle adulthood may want to take charge of their own professional development and to 
seek out events that meet their specific needs. If educators are honest about wanting to 
develop lifelong learners, an effective way to do so would be to encourage the adults, the 
teachers, to pursue their own goals, those that are consistent with the needs of the school. 



91 

Supports for Teachers During the Learning Process 

Interview data : Some of the change initiatives are complex and difficult to learn and 
will be abandoned unless the teachers have timely support during the learning process. I 
asked the teachers what supports they have, or would like to have, while they are 
implementing a change initiative. Three basic responses were: the support of the 
administration, of colleagues and adequate funding. The principal responded that the 
curriculum coordinators are very helpful. The science/math coordinator started in 
September, but the LA/SS coordinator did not start until January. When the district was 
preparing its budget for the next school year, it announced many deep cuts. The principal 
did not agree to cut the coordinators' positions because "they are too valuable." The 
principal added that there is a strong technology department with people available to 
assist their colleagues as needed. Another suggestion, from E, is modeling, "Teachers 
have to be open to having someone come in and model something for them because you 
learn best by seeing it done by somebody else." Three teachers added the need for 
continued handing during the length of the project. Many asked for funds to attend 
conferences and seminars away from school. 

One teacher told me about a student program she had developed that had an evening 
presentation to which parents were invited. Other teachers were reluctant to participate 
for fear that there would be more evening contractual obligations if one teacher 
established a precedent. The project was discontinued after three years. 

Interpretation : The support of colleagues is necessary or "you feel as if you are 
striking out on your own." When teachers expressed a desire to choose the members of 
their cluster, I think they might have done so because they feel more comfortable 



92 

working with colleagues who have an attitude similar to their own toward adopting a new 

program, experimentation and creativity. 

Student Teachers as a Source of Learning 

Interview data : This school district has a professional development relationship with 

four universities that place many student teachers into the town's schools. As the liaison 

from one University to the middle school, I met with and presented seminars to the 

student teachers each week. In that role, the first teachers I met at the school were the 

cooperating teachers. Since these were the teachers who knew me best, it made sense 

that they would consent to be interviewed for my study. Of the ten teachers I 

interviewed, seven were cooperating teachers. I asked them why they agreed to do the 

additional work of mentoring a student teacher. Three teachers effectively summarized 

what was said: 

D: "I always feel that I get as much out of it as they do because I learn from them new 
techniques and new ideas. Also, I get to critique myself a little bit. I get to reflect on 
how I do it and how they would do it differently. . . I am stealing as much from her as she 
is from me. . .They bring new ideas." 

E: "It is an opportunity for me to learn." 

G: "They give a certain level of enthusiasm [which] is infectious." 

Interpretation : Although it is time consuming to meet with a student teacher and 

answer numerous questions about how and why something is done in class, the teachers I 

interviewed expressed their opinion that the relationship was a mutually positive one. 

The pre-service teacher brings new ideas and strategies to the classroom, as well as 

enthusiasm and creativity. The veteran teacher is able to learn from the new teacher in an 

environment that is free of evaluative judgments and at his/her own pace. The teacher is 

able to reflect on her/his own practice and compare the new practices of the student 



93 

teacher to the ones s/he would have used in the same situation. It is a non-pressured way 
of learning new strategies and techniques. 

Observation data : As liaison, I offered to facilitate a morning seminar for the veteran 
teachers who are, or want to be, cooperating teachers, to improve their teaching skills for 
adults. The skills would be helpful both as a supervisor of a student teacher and in 
presenting workshops to other teachers, both new and veteran. At the first meeting, we 
shared information about how to be helpilil to student teachers and how to communicate 
both good and bad news without impairing the relationship. Unfortunately, we had only 
one session because of scheduling difficulty. We met at 7; 15a.m. and, although those 
present found the session useflil, they did not want to commit to another regular early 
morning meeting. 

Interpretation : Inasmuch as we did not build the meeting time into the schedule in 
advance, it was impossible to find a time that most of (certainly not all) the teachers 
could attend meetings. However, I did have on-going meetings with several of the 
teachers privately to discuss ways of approaching sensitive issues with their student 
teachers. 
Summary 

Several themes emerged jfrom the interviews. Not wanting to remain static and 
stagnant, teachers search for ways to learn, whether from professional development 
workshops presented by the school or from professional journals and other publications, 
conferences and the Internet. They also indicated that supervising a student teacher was 
an excellent way to learn new practices at the same time as assisting in training the next 
generation of teachers. When teachers are being trained in a new practice, they do not 



94 

adopt it in its entirety, but rather modify it to match their own teaching style and 
classroom needs. As a group, the veteran teachers do not want to feel overwhelmed by 
new practices that are introduced with great frequency. They need the time to modify a 
new practice to make it their own. They want to feel confidant that innovations will be 
supported for as long as they are effective and not abandoned for the next new thing that 
comes along. 

The conclusions and recommendations based on these findings are discussed in the 
next chapter. 



95 

Chapter Five: Conclusions and Recommendations 
Conclusions 
Conditions and Factors that Promote and Facilitate the Change Effort 

In this chapter, I discuss the conclusions I drew from the patterns that appeared in my 
data, I conducted my research to learn about the conditions and factors that influence 
veteran teachers to participate in and implement change. All data collected and analyzed 
here came from interviewing twelve veteran teachers two times each over the course of a 
school year. I found that there were five specific areas that appeared over and over. 
These are the conditions and factors that appeared to influence, promote and facilitate a 
change effort for this group of veteran teachers. They are: 

1. An understanding that the change process itself is a difficuH challenge. 

A. It requires a long-term commitment. 

B. It is ongoing and never completed. 

C. It requires planning, money, continuous follow-up and tenacity. 

2. A school culture that is conducive to change. In such a culture, 

A. Risk taking by teachers is encouraged. 

B. Teacher support systems are provided. 

C. Teachers are encouraged to work together. 

D. Teachers share their classroom strategies and modifications with others. 

E. The school develops an institutional capacity for change. 

F. Complaints are addressed in a timely and direct manner by the 
administration. 

3. A school principal who supports, inspires and encourages the teachers. 

A. The principal is knowledgeable about teaching and learning. 

B. The principal gives regular feedback and makes teachers feel valued 

4. Appropriate professional development offered to teachers is: 

A. Adapted to the adult learner 

B. Flexible with varied opportunities for learning 

C. Supportive during the learning phase 



96 



D. Sometimes presented as teachers giving workshops for their colleagues 

E. Encouraging veteran teachers to mentor new teachers and/or supervise 
student teachers 

5. Teachers are involved in change. 

A. They have access to assessment data about students. 

B. They are included in the decision-making process about change initiatives. 

C. Their knowledge and experience are respected and used by the school 
administration. 

D. They are internally motivated to change 



These five specific areas kept recurring; they appeared in my literature search, were 
repeatedly mentioned by interviewees, and surfaced during observations of classrooms, 
seminars and clusters. I discuss each factor individually and show how the data led me to 
form the conclusions that follow. 

The Change Process is Challenge in Itself 

Change is complex and affects the everyday lives of teachers, a factor reinforced by 
the literature and my data from teachers. Prior to and during a change initiative, 
everyone in the school must be made aware that change is challenging, difficult and 
causes disruptions in routines and practices, and, according to Fullan (1991), is not a 
quick process. It takes time to perceive and agree on the need for change, to design a 
plan, have it accepted and then modified often to satisfy many constituencies. Then, once 
it is in place, to implement the change plan, and "tweak" it as unforeseen issues arise 
during implementation, is equally complicated. In addition to the list above is the 
necessity for sujfficient financial and emotional supports to keep the effort going forward 
for at least five years, until it can be evaluated adequately and becomes part of the 
existing reality of the school. 



97 

In today's educational environment, changes are proposed almost daily and are 
sustained only briefly, usually until the next innovation arrives, invariably a shorter 
period of time than the five years recommended by FuUan (1991). Teachers have 
become skeptical about each successive new plan, because the implementation requires 
enormous effort and is often not continued for a long period. For example, during my 
interviews, an eighth grade math teacher revealed her fear that the school would change 
its math curriculum because they have been using the current program "for four years 
already" and "you are waiting for the next thing down the pike" to push out the old and 
"put in a new one " Although no change is planned, it is anticipated, based on past 
experience. Similarly, the sixth grade time-schedule changes are another example of why 
teachers are reluctant to embrace each new program. Therefore, in some cases, teachers 
even postpone implementing a new plan until they become convinced that the proposal 
will be in place for a substantial period of time. This reluctance complicates and impedes 
the adoption of change. 

My data and the research literature show that teachers want to be convinced that the 
new program, strategy or practice is a more effective way of teaching than the one 
previously used. They want the change to meet a need that they have identified in the 
classroom or learned about by studying standardized or state achievement test scores. 
They want to be excited by its potential to engage the class because they want their 
students to love their subject. They also stated that they do not want to be bored and feel 
stagnant in their practice. The school culture must accept change as a normal way of 
functioning in order to meet the goal of improving performance for all students. 



98 

A School Culture That is Conducive to Change 

Each school has its unique culture, defined simply as "the way things are done here." 
Teachers need to know how to maneuver through the maze of school routines that baffle 
the newcomer, but are invisible to the veteran. In order for teachers to embrace change, 
the culture of the school must be supportive. 

The school culture needs to encourage risk taking and change in order for teachers to 
engage in new activities. The administration needs to encourage and publicize teacher 
experimentation. When teachers fear that their evaluations will be negative if a new 
practice presents difficulties in implementation and makes them appear less successful 
than they were, they will learn quickly to protect their teaching status and not be involved 
in experimentation. In addition to desiring and needing a positive evaluation for renewal 
of contract, teachers do not want to jeopardize their relationships with their students by 
trying things that are unfamiliar, unclear or less engaging to them. 

Because teacher interactions about professional practice are infrequent and teachers 
struggle by themselves to find appropriate innovations, teaching is often a lonely 
profession. So much of the work is done alone, fi-om classroom management, to 
planning, to gathering materials and to the implementation of change. The cluster system 
appears to be an exception. Teachers reported that they were very grateful that, within 
the clusters, they were able to address some of the emotional and behavioral problems of 
then- students and try to solve them together. The cluster structure created a regular 
meeting time and provided an arena for discussion in which collaborative teacher 
interactions were able to happen. Although the role of the clusters in the change 
initiatives has the potential to expand appreciably, it has a long way to go. With the new 



99 

Turning Point coaches being assigned to the school, there is the possibility that the 
clusters will become the arena for teacher study groups, looking at student work, 
planning new lessons together, visiting each other's classroom and peer coaching. The 
opportunity to work together and learn from each other will be greatly expanded as 
cluster leaders and teachers gain the skills to make them a part of the regular school 
routine. 

A school culture of collegiality would enable teachers to learn from and support each 
other. To learn from each other, teachers need to find their voices and share with their 
colleagues when they design a new strategy or discover an effective way to meet a 
classroom need. They need to enhance their leadership skills, already evident in the 
classroom. When I observed teachers, I found that they were proactive, even assertive, 
about solving problems in their own classrooms. When they identified a need in their 
classroom, they actively pursued a way to remedy it. This often meant a change in their 
own classroom practice, about which few, if any, other teachers were aware. The new 
practice therefore remained with one teacher, not shared with colleagues. An example is 
the fact that teachers worked alone and developed individually many versions of John 
Collin's focused correction areas until each was able to design writing assignments that 
achieved the results they desired. It is unlikely that each classroom was unique with 
regard to student needs. Unless the change is shared, other teachers must work alone to 
figure out how to solve a similar problem, a waste of energy for a busy practitioner. 

Teachers need support to pursue the difficult tasks involved in educational change. 
One way of offering significant assistance to the teachers at the middle school studied 
was to engage curriculum coordinators. As former teachers, they know the subject matter 



100 

and the available teaching resources, have current teaching experience and are available 
in the school whenever they are needed. 

The data indicated that teachers benefited from working with colleagues whose 
thinking was similar to theirs, who were enthusiastic about being involved in change, 
experimentation and variation in the classroom. If their peers deride their efforts or are 
uncooperative, it is difficult to continue alone. If they have peers who share their 
willingness to try new strategies or activities, and then discuss with them what worked or 
failed and why, teachers are more likely to continue with the change than if they have to 
work by themselves. 

If we want teachers to be involved in training each other, they must be taught to work 
as effectively with their peers as with their students. Knowing how to teach children does 
not translate automatically into knowing how to teach adults. Teachers need professional 
development to learn how to present workshops to their peers, how to work with 
colleagues to plan lessons, how to observe and critique fellow teachers without 
jeopardizing a friendship. It appears easier to ignore the input of teachers than to train 
them to share their knowledge and expertise with each other. Helping teachers to grow in 
their practice and encouraging them to accept an expanded role in the school will 
necessitate additional training. To use teacher time differently, schools will have to 
provide schedules and budgets that enable them to assume new responsibilities. 

More important than the implementation of a specific school change is the creation of 
an institutional capacity for change. This includes a change of culture to one that values 
teacher openness and honesty with each other to diagnose a problem before it becomes a 
crisis, to seize opportunities for improvement, whether they are top-down or bottom-up. 



and to work together for mutual support. Schools need to learn to manage change as 
routinely as they maintain stability. Teachers may know how to implement change in 
their individual classrooms, but they do not appear to be comfortable with school wide 
mandated initiatives. They need to work together to focus on increasing the school's 
capacity to implement change. A classroom change is implemented to meet an identified 
classroom need. Similarly, a schoolwide change is for the purpose of improving teaching 
and learning for each student. The goals are frequently parallel, or at least, 
complementary. 

Another attribute of a school culture that promotes and supports change is an 
atmosphere in which complaints may be stated honestly, people are listened to sensitively 
and suggestions are taken seriously. Follow-up methods exist to respond to complaints 
and the problem is addressed rather than ignored with the unrealistic hope that it will 
disappear by itself Although this issue falls within the culture of the school, it is also 
dependent on the skills of the principal and his/her ability to adjudicate teacher problems 
and search for effective solutions. 

The serendipitous benefits of change for teachers are great. Teachers in my study said 
that they wanted to do something new in the classroom. Therefore, implementing a 
change successfully would make the teachers feel gratified, positive and help them 
realize how important they are to the program of educational change. With a positive 
attitude and additional experience, subsequent changes may be easier to deal with. When 
teachers struggle to learn something new, they are able to identify with the challenges 
that their students confront when they engage new material daily. That understanding 
will enable the teachers to be more patient and compassionate. 



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A School Principal who Supports, Inspires and Encourages Teachers 

The principal of the school plays a pivotal role in the change process. The principal 
must often be the cheerleader for the school and must advocate for a new initiative with 
conviction and enthusiasm. It is helpful if the principal has a deep understanding of 
teaching and learning that can be shared with the faculty. To do so, the principal must 
keep abreast of current educational literature and be aware of successful new teaching 
practices. 

My data show that it is important for teachers to be informed that they are valued by 
the school administration. They want to receive regular feedback from the administrator, 
including notes of thanks or praise to acknowledge specific work. Another way in which 
an administrator demonstrates respect for teachers' contributions is to communicate, 
regularly and honestly, to them that their evers'day decisions and judgments are valued 
and trusted. The principal needs to make the time to know what is happening in 
classrooms, to respond to it, and establish positive relationships with the teachers. With 
the trust, credibility and supportiveness that this kind of behavior generates, the principal 
will be able to address a problem when one surfaces and promote change among faculty. 
Appropriate Professional Development for Teachers as Adult Learners 

Teachers need diverse resources, multiple levels of support, choice and time when 
engaging in change initiatives. The models of professional development and the manner 
in which they are presented to teachers are important. Teachers reported their 
preferences for varied kinds of professional development in addition to seminars and 
workshops, including, for example; working in small groups, collaborating with peers, 
teacher-to-teacher w^orkshops, opportunities to obser\'e at other schools and inviting 



103 

expert teachers to model new techniques. The seminars and workshops need to be 
provided when teachers are alert and receptive, not at the end of a long day of teaching. 
The teacher trainer needs to be knowledgeable about teaching and enthusiastic about the 
new strategy. Funding and support must be provided until the new skill is learned and 
integrated into the teacher's practice. 

Although a school faculty is typically composed of teachers of varied ages and levels 
of experience, staff development offerings are usually presented to all teachers at the 
same time in the same way, a "one size fits all" event. However, teachers report that it is 
crucial to provide them with professional development that meets their needs as learners. 
Good teaching techniques apply to both aduhs and children. For example, teachers have 
complained that they are unable to learn how to use technology in the classroom at the 
same rate. Similarly, although all teachers are required to implement John Collins 
writing, for physical education and art teachers, the writing instruction needs to be 
significantly more explicit than for language arts teachers. We need to find out what the 
teacher knows, what the teacher needs to know and how confident the teacher is to 
experiment. In this way, we can adapt the methodology and the content of the workshops 
to meet the needs of the teachers (as classroom teachers do for their students). 

In order to be appropriate for most of the veteran teachers in the school, professional 
development opportunities must be flexible. At middle adulthood, teachers often want to 
take charge of their professional development. Self-directed teachers are aware of their 
strengths and needs and may ask to go to conferences that appeal to then- interests and 
desire for improvement. They may want to write a grant to pursue objectives that benefit 
both themselves and the school. For some teachers, professional development can 



104 

occasionally take the form of visits to other schools to see how they are solving problems 
or implementing new curricula. During the interviews that I conducted, teachers revealed 
a variety of ways in which they learn new things to use in their teaching, including, for 
example: reading professional journals, using the Internet, attending conferences, 
participating in teacher discussion groups or taking summer courses. Setting aside a 
school budget allocation that provides funds for meeting one's own professional goals is 
essential for these activities to occur. 

The school can help teachers attempt new initiatives by providing supportive 
assistance in the implementation phase of a new program. My research showed that 
curriculum coordinators provide support when needed. They are particularly helpflil 
because they are knowledgeable about the subject, know about available resources, are 
experienced in the classroom and are present at the school fUll-time. Therefore, they are 
able to observe in classrooms and make suggestions to support the efforts of the teachers. 
Joint lesson planning was effective, but too time-consuming, unless regular meeting time 
was set aside for it to happen. Teachers read journals and attend conferences, but they 
rarely share what they learn from these sources with their colleagues. One suggested 
remedy is to re-examine how cluster time is used and structure it to include time for 
teacher sharing to advance personal growth. 

Sometimes a faculty member has difficulty with a change and needs help to continue 
with the classroom implementation. To meet the needs of a teacher in such instances, it 
is helpful to assign a knowledgeable colleague to work with him/her, one-on-one, until 
s/he feels more competent and, therefore, more confident. The presenter would need to 



105 

be available to support him/her during the change until the new is integrated with the old 
and becomes part of the teacher's repertoire. 

An example of such a difficulty in the setting where this study was carried out arose 
regarding the use of computers for a few veteran staff members. Teachers in their thirties 
grew up using computers and were comfortable with the technology. However, some 
teachers in their fifties (of both genders) needed additional instruction to develop their 
skills in this area. It is necessary for the administration to provide more time with 
technology for some teachers in their fifties, than for those in their thirties. However, it is 
reasonable for the administration to expect that veteran teachers will implement 
technology objectives, but a different pace and timetable are needed for them. 

A way to deliver professional development and, at the same time, to value teacher 
experience is to ask veteran teaching staff to present workshops for their peers. Teachers 
have the ability to teach their peers skills that they have struggled with and mastered. I 
heard many examples of successfial teacher-to-teacher professional development, 
particularly about the use of technology in the classroom. In addition, faculty members 
may present workshops to each other describing a strategy or activity that they designed 
for their own classes. Such presentations would provide an opportunity for teachers to 
learn what happens in the classrooms of colleagues and to learn fi-om each other. 
Teachers in the same building are often trying to solve similar problems; sharing would 
give them an opportunity to learn about alternate solutions that have worked for others. 
The sharing of strategies would be particularly useftil within each cluster for teachers 
who are working with the same group of children. The act of presenting to colleagues 
would provide opportunities for teachers to gain respect and status by teaching each 



106 

other. In this way, they are also expanding the role of teachers outside their classroom 
contact with children to an adult environment that values their knowledge and experience 
as educators. 

In middle adulthood, teachers are concerned with generativity, or passing on their 
knowledge and skills to the next generation. For this reason, veteran teachers would 
benefit from being asked to become mentors for new faculty members, to supervise 
student teachers or present workshops for new teachers. In each of these roles, a teacher 
is called on to use his/her expertise to train others. The veteran teachers in this study 
reported that they learned new strategies and approaches in a non-threatening way when 
supervising and observing student teachers. To prepare to present a teacher workshop or 
to help a student teacher, veteran teachers often need to reflect on their own practice. 
This process of reflection enhances their personal growth. 
A Role for Teachers in Educational Change 

Teachers in my study reported that they want to feel valued by the administration and 
the district. When change is mandated and top-down, teachers are not given recognition 
for their expertise and experience. Veteran teachers feel they have experience in forming 
relationships with students, in selecting ways to engage student interest, in presenting 
information that is accessible to their students and in developing a learning community in 
their classrooms. Therefore, they need to become a voice that is heard, consulted and 
valued in the school reform effort. It would be to the school's advantage to leverage the 
successes of these dedicated educators and to make them available as resources for 
others. 



107 

All of the teachers I interviewed reported that they want to change. They want to 
grow in their practice, and want to transmit to their students their love of their subject 
area and/or their love of learning. Their reported interest in learning should be 
encouraged to create a community of learners among the teachers. Their motivation to 
avoid boredom and inspire their students should be used to find and implement effective 
changes in the school. 

Teachers said that they want to be involved in making selections of teaching units and 
pedagogical strategies for their classrooms. They need greater involvement in the 
identification of education problems and in setting the agenda for change within the 
classrooms and schools. Teachers become aware that a problem exists if they observe 
student difficuhies in the classroom, if test scores are not improving, if students are not 
responsive and engaged by the material they are using or if parents are complaining. To 
be able to identify larger, school-wide problems, teachers need access to student data 
from standardized tests and state accountability tests and time to study it. As teachers 
engage in analyzing data on a regular basis, they become aware of the necessity to change 
what they are doing in order to improve opportunities for all children to be successflil. 

After the identification of a student performance problem, teachers need to be 
involved in the selection of strategies for improvement to enable teachers to relate to the 
effort and make it their own. New teaching strategies may come fi-om a variety of 
sources-educafional research literature, teacher innovations in their own classrooms, 
within the school or fi-om a wider network of colleagues with whom they share 
information. The process would be similar to one described by teachers regarding 



108 

changes they designed and initiated in their own classrooms; namely, identification of a 
problem and selection of viable solutions. 

At the end of the process of testing new strategies, teachers should have to evaluate 
the results of the implementation and start the modification and adaptation process once 
again. They need to keep and strengthen what was effective and discard or modify what 
was not working. By being involved in the entire change process, from identification of 
the problem, to planning a solution, to evaluating the results of a change initiative, it is 
more likely that teachers will be motivated to make the new technique work when they 
are encouraged to adapt it to their style and to the needs of their specific class. For an 
innovation to succeed, the culture of the school must acknowledge that change is ongoing 
and that during change teachers need to support each other, compare practice and 
communicate regularly about the benefits for their students and for themselves. 
Recommendations 
For Important Stakeholders Groups 

In the preceding section, I discussed the conclusions that emerged from my data. 
What follows is a set of recommendations to enable the change process to proceed. 

There are many groups that have an influence on, and who are affected by what 
happens in schools. These are the stakeholders in public education; namely the teachers, 
the school administrators including the principal, the parents, the school district, and the 
schools of education. 

One of the most compelling things I relearned during this dissertation is that schools 
are very complex and interdependent institutions. When one of the regular structures of 
the school is modified, even slightly, it has an impact on all the other parts, whether it is 



109 

curriculum or teacher strategies. No surprise. Systems analysts have demonstrated this 
phenomenon clearly as it pertains to business organizations and, more recently, to schools 
(Senge, 2000). 

As I interviewed and observed veteran teachers for my study regarding school change, 
it was clear to me that teachers working in their classrooms are a crucial element in 
reforming education. However, they alone cannot be held responsible for the entire 
effort. 

Teachers 

Teachers are the most visible group of stakeholders in the current education reform 
effort. They need to change the present culture of territorial isolation and instead learn to 
share with their peers openly and honestly, to work together to identify a problem, design 
a solution, and then adapt it to be consistent with their style and their students' needs. If 
teachers plan units together, observe each other teach, critique what they have seen and 
work together to improve their practice, a new norm of collaborative teaching will 
evolve. In order to improve their practice, teachers must begin to rely on each other for 
teaching and coaching. The results would establish a new teaching culture in schools and 
make teaching a more public activity. In a coaching relationship with a peer, teachers 
could share strategies and content in a relationship between professional equals, in order 
to learn jfrom each other, make improvements and adopt innovations for the benefit of 
their students and themselves. 

Another option might be to encourage veteran teachers to remain in the classroom and 
accept an expanded role in the school. The new role would include becoming a mentor to 
new teachers, supervising student teachers and/or delivering professional development 



110 

workshops for their peers. This entails rethinking the role of the teacher and valuing their 
work in designing innovations in the classroom, advising colleagues, writing curriculum 
and serving on town-wide education or parent committees. It necessitates 
acknowledging, valuing and respecting the expertise and experience of teachers. The 
expanded role recognizes that teaching is more than time in front of a class of students. 
Perceiving teaching as a multitude of roles would recognize the teacher's influential and 
caring role with children. To bring teacher innovations to a wider audience, teachers 
should publish their ideas for other educators, outside their own school community. An 
adjustment to the budget to accommodate increased time and costs would be needed for 
additional teacher activities. 
Principals 
The principal is pivotal in the change process and therefore must be knowledgeable 
about teaching and learning and about the challenges and stresses of change. The 
principal must be a good listener, supporting a teaching staff of different ages and stages, 
as well as skilled in identifying and hiring new faculty members. Schools need teachers 
who are knowledgeable, creative and engaging, and able to relate successfully to their 
students. In addition, teachers must support and advance the vision of the school and be 
able to collaborate with peers. The principal must find ways to communicate, not only 
with the newly hired, but, with the entire faculty, that the change process is difficult and 
lengthy, but essential. The principal has the important task of motivating teachers to 
participate actively and productively in making changes to improve the institution to 
enable all children to be successflil. 



Ill 

An area that I did not study directly is the training and support of principals during a 
change initiative. Often a great teacher is "promoted" to become a principal. Sometimes, 
the result is a "Peter principle" (Peter & Hull, 1969) principal in which the system loses 
an outstanding teacher and gains a poor principal. Many schools are experimenting with 
principal mentors. Because of the critical role of the principal in school change, I 
recommend that how principals are trained and supported be studied more closely. 
Additionally, it would be useftil to study how principals bring those skills to supporting 
their teachers, especially with regard to fostering and implementing change. 
Parents 

Parents are another important stakeholder group. In two-parent working families, it is 
often difficult for parents to be actively involved in the school. During my interviews, 
only one teacher talked about involving parents more. In our increasingly multicultural 
communities, teachers need to understand the values and aspirations of the parents in 
order to communicate more effectively with them and with their children. Rather than 
complaining about poor attendance at school events and canceling them, schools must 
make parents feel welcome by scheduling events at a time when they are able to attend. 
When they do come to school, parents need to be involved in activities that are important 
to them and to their children. Schools need to help parents understand their child's 
education and also to give them opportunities to share their knowledge and skills with the 
school. Parents are needed to support their children's learning at home and to advocate 
for the school in the community, particularly when the town government is making 
budget allocations. Currently, the semester following the completion of my interviews. 



112 

the principal and the district leadership are working together to find more successful 
ways to involve parents in the life of the school. 
School District 
The school district leadership is a determining stakeholder. They set goals for each 
school year, and action items and professional development activities to meet the 
identified goals. The school district design for action items and the professional 
development to meet it, needs to apply appropriate adult learning theory to enable its 
teachers, at varied ages and stages of development, to learn effectively. The district 
needs to set aside additional funds that may be used by individual teachers for their own 
professional development. The National Staff Development Council suggests allocating 
ten percent of a school's budget for teacher training and to encourage teachers to devote 
twenty-five percent of their time to their own learning. The suggesfion involves both 
teacher time and budgetary allocations and is far more ambitious than current practice; 
although these may be goals to which districts can and should aspire. 

The school district must sustain new initiatives with professional development 
activities and support until teachers have incorporated the new programs into their 
teaching repertoires. The district must resist being seduced by every innovation that 
receives publicity and, instead, maintain a consistent program that is effective. Good 
sources of information about the effectiveness of professional development offerings are 
the teacher-completed evaluations of the programs. These should be used to improve 
offerings for teachers. 

Although pre-service teachers may be required to write journals as a requirement for 
some of their courses, many veteran teachers do not have similar experiences. Therefore, 



113 

it would be beneficial to teach veteran teachers to keep journals in which they reflect on 
their own lessons and change adoptions and use the reflections to evaluate and improve 
their practice. Today many teachers are asking their students to keep reflective journals; 
teachers would profit by having the knowledge and experience to model journal writing 
for their students. For teachers, an added benefit to personal journal writing would be to 
foster self-evaluation by analyzing and reflecting on their own teaching. 

Within the school system, professional development is invariably concerned with 
improving the practice of teaching. The teachers in my study reported that they are often 
too busy to take courses in subject areas in which they are interested to continue to 
educate themselves. Few availed themselves of the "Teachers as Scholars" program 
offered by the system I studied. Perhaps those courses could be rescheduled at times that 
are more convenient for teachers, even within their school buildings before or after 
school or during the summer. 

However, the teachers in my study reported many and varied sources from which they 
do continue to learn. The art teacher seeks out courses at area museums that are of 
interest to her. The geography teacher attends summer workshops at historic places that 
are applicable to her teaching. The science teacher takes and teaches science education 
courses at a local University. The language arts teachers participate in book discussion 
groups. They all reported that they read professional journals and look forward to 
attending conferences. A personal professional development budget would encourage and 
enable these kinds of continuing education activities for all teachers. 

A recommendation for farther research is to study the effectiveness of teacher-driven 
professional development and training choices intended to meet the goals of the district. 



114 

These might be compared to the effectiveness of the district-driven decisions for 
professional development and training of teachers. A third approach (to teacher-initiated 
or district-driven decisions for professional development) would be a joint decision 
process in which teachers and the district collaborate on the choice of effective 
professional development before it is presented to the teachers. The Professional 
Development Council of the town is currently working in this area, and their 
accomplishments need to be studied. 
Schools of Education 

The following recommendations apply to Schools of Education, the stakeholder whose 
function is to train future teachers. Although I did not interview student teachers for this 
study, I have been involved with them as University liaison to the Middle School and 
have shared seminars and follow-up discussions with them. 

Educational reform is the most important challenge in our schools today and will 
undoubtedly continue into the foreseeable future. Schools of Education need to prepare 
teachers for the process of change, how long it takes, how disruptive it can be but also 
how exhilarating it is to find more effective ways to help children to succeed. New 
teachers, and all teachers, need patience, perseverance, creativity and flexibility in 
addition to pedagogic skills and content knowledge. 

Schools of Education need to add courses on teacher collaboration. Teachers need to 
learn how to co-teach effectively with another professional in the room. The second 
teacher may be from another discipline, a specialist or support person. In order for each 
professional to feel comfortable, h/she has to learn to collaborate in planning and 
delivering engaging lessons. Two teachers working in concert would enable each to give 



115 

greater attention to students, in both remediation and enrichment areas. The arrangement 
would allow teachers to integrate subject matter and demonstrate the interconnectedness 
and common skills of all learning. 

Pre-service teacher education must be more rigorous in areas of academic content, in 
addition to pedagogic techniques. Pre-service teachers need a firm grounding in their 
subject area. In-service teachers need opportunities to increase their own knowledge 
within their discipline, or in other areas of interest, and not concentrate totally on ways to 
improve their practice. 

As veteran teachers expand their roles in schools to areas other than teaching children, 
they will need additional skills. Schools of Education could fill this role by creating 
continuing education seminars for veteran teachers beyond the traditional course 
structure. One way of doing this would be to establish University-public school 
partnerships. In this arrangement, universities could design and offer seminars and 
courses, given by their faculty, to provide additional training for the veterans in such 
areas as mentoring peers and writing curriculum. They must be scheduled at a location 
and time that is convenient and accessible to the flill-time teacher. 
For Mid-life Career Change 

Within the workforce today, many people are making mid-life career changes. Our 
society is learning that change is constant, whether it comes fi-om career choices that 
people make for themselves or fi-om external influences over which they have no control. 
It would be beneficial for employees to know what would be valuable to adults who must 
learn new skills in order to enter new careers. By continuing research to identify the 
factors and conditions that help veteran teachers learn new things, we could improve the 



education and job retraining of the adult population at large. An immediate benefit to 
school administrators would be to learn to work effectively with teachers who are unable 
or unwilling to implement changes mandated within the school and to redirect and/or 
retrain those teachers to a new career. 

To ease the transition of mid-life aduhs to new types of employment, I would 
recommend a study to identify the factors and conditions that adults from dot-com 
companies find effective as they enter new careers. Some are retraining to become 
teachers and must confront and adapt to the very different work culture and time 
constraints that are found in schools and were not present in the environment of a high- 
tech company. 
For Ongoing Study 

I interviewed only those teachers who gave their consent, a self-selected group. It 
would be advantageous to learn about the views and experiences of the teachers who 
declined to be interviewed. I would like to compare their responses to those of the 
original consenting teachers to learn if they are as committed to working successfully 
toward change. In the course of my research as a participant observer, I had informal 
interactions with many of the teachers in the school, during cluster meetings, professional 
development sessions, classroom visits and even in the lunchroom and corridors. 
Although I did not have the opportunity to interview all the teachers, their stories are part 
of the life of the school during a change initiative. Future researchers should be aware of 
the valid information that is embedded in these encounters and record them as field notes 
and refer to them as part of a study. For example, one of the teachers, reluctant to be 



117 

interviewed, was eager to explain a new project to me and talk about student work while I 
was admiring a display he had mounted in the hallway outside his classroom. 

The sample size for my study was small. I interviewed and analyzed the responses of 
twelve veteran teachers. I would recommend expanding the study to corroborate my 
findings by interviewing and observing additional teachers in other school settings and 
grade levels to learn more about the conditions and factors needed by teachers to change. 

In earlier sections, I suggested other questions to be answered with studies in the 
following areas: 

o What are the skills and supports needed by principals to make them more 

effective change agents? 
o What is the effect of increased parent involvement in schools on their support for 

teachers involved in change initiatives? 
o What is the effectiveness of varied teacher-driven professional development 

choices on their ability to implement change? 

In our schools today, teachers are involved in dispensing knowledge as well as a 
myriad of other roles. These multiple roles include monitoring health and teaching good 
health habits, providing activities before and after traditional school hours (including 
breakfast for some), advising students to help them address social and emotional 
problems as well as teaching the regularly anticipated subjects. While all the 
stakeholders are trying to determine the role of schools in our society, teachers are being 
examined critically and are being held accountable for their own performance and that of 
their students. 

Hearing the voices of these teachers provides a clear understanding of their 
commitment to teaching and to their students. 

C: I think, how could I be doing this job for thirty years? Because it is never the same, 
already next year is different. It is hard, but it is never the same, ever. I think that makes 



118 



it good because you can't get bored. I just think it is the nature of society and kids and if 
you don't change, you are just not going to reach them. 

D: "I like sharing what I do, I like opening kids' eyes to science. I like bringing the 
subject matter alive and explaining things. I love teaching science, I love being with 
young kids, I love the age group. I couldn't do anything else." 

E: "The academic issues are there and yes, we have to teach them, but I think at this age, 
the kids have to like coming to school and to like being here, to know that they are safe 
and that there are adults who care about them and that they're learning in the process of 
doing it all. The most gratifying to me is the relationships I develop with kids." 

F: "It's about the kids and what we are going to do next and what we are going to do to 
make them a little bit more successful. That's what you have to do, you have to reinvent 
yourself, you have to keep reinventing yourself or you just fade out." 

G: "I am constantly looking to improve the way I present to students. I want my student 
to be the best that they can be; it is a tough world out there. I am here for the kids, for the 
kids to be better learners, not just to memorize facts; I want them to internalize it." 

J: "I think you really have to respect the students and think of them as someone that you 
can affect in a positive way and just make absolutely every effort to have a positive effect 
on them. I think the content of what you are teaching is important but I am not so sure 
that you can build or impart a lot of knowledge if you don't connect." 

L: "I think we all talk about our kids, not biological kids, our kids and we are really 
proud of them, that they are doing good things." 

The teachers' voices are clear and inspiring. They play a muhifaceted role in the 
classroom and have integrated the child nurturing and teaching roles. They must expand 
their roles even further, beyond the classroom, to collaborate with their peers and to have 
an impact on curriculum and methodology, the what and the how of teaching. They need 
the support of the community in order to enable all of our children to succeed and help 
society fulfill its plans for the future by implementing best practices today. 

As a nation, we must decide the role we want schools to play and how families and 
neighborhood institutions might reinforce that role. Schools are challenged to acculturate 
children and families who are emigrating from all over the world, bringing with them 



119 

varied cultures, languages, experiences and values. The explosion of knowledge further 
challenges schools to decide how to prepare students to gather relevant information and 
to use it effectively. 

The stakes in the current school reform effort are high; the rewards for success will be 
many if our society is committed to finding ways to support teachers in the important 
work that they are doing. The common elements that support teachers in the process of 
change are an understanding of the change process, a supportive school culture and an 
inspiring principal. Teachers need appropriate, effective and varied professional 
development opportunities and a determining role in the process of educational change. 
Researchers in the field of educational change are amassing a body of knowledge about 
how to implement change that must be applied to practice to avoid some of the pitfalls of 
implementation. 

My study revealed that these veteran teachers are stimulated by change, and regularly 
seek out ways to improve, they aspire to teach their students to love learning and they 
have a commitment to helping their students succeed. As caring adults, teachers feel that 
having a positive relationship with a student is important to teaching the child. Learning 
how teachers respond to change and involving and supporting them in the difficult and 
on-going work involved in change are central to the success of the endeavors. The 
insights provided by this study are applicable to significant numbers of teachers. Current 
statistics about teachers in Massachusetts indicate that teachers with more than ten years 
of full-time teaching experience, veteran teachers, make up 74% of the teachers. With 
the power of the numbers involved, it is clear that veteran teachers are key to the success 
of our schools during the present intense educational reform effort. 



120 



Appendix A; Questionnaire for Teachers at the Middle School 

October 24, 2001 

Name; 

How many years have you taught? 



How many years have you taught at the Middle School? 

What subject(s) do you teach? . 

What grades do you teach? 

Which of the following professional development opportunities did you participate in 
during the last two or three school years? Please check the ones that are appropriate. 
Also indicate with a * which of the initiatives you are implementing in your classroom, 
either in the past or are planning to implement for the current school year. 

JEL, Job Embedded Learning 

CSRD, Comprehensive School Restructuring Design 

CFL, Community for Learning 

Turning Points 

Technology training 



John Collins Writing Folders 
Cluster training 



IF AS, Instruction for all Students 

Curriculum Mapping 

Literature Circles 

Others: 



If you are willing to meet with me later on in the school year for an interview for my 
dissertation research to talk about some of the above programs, I would be very grateful. 
Please indicate: Yes No 

Thank you for your help. 
Evelyn Baker Lang 



12] 



Appendix B: Pilot Study 1 
Interview protocol and prompts 

1 . What is the grade level of your certification? 

2. How long have you been teaching at the middle school level? 

3. Do you live in ? If yes, why do you choose to teach in the town in which 

you live? Is it an advantage or disadvantage? 

4. How are your classes different now from when you first started teaching? What 
are you doing to accommodate the differences? How do you know what to do? If 
you want to learn more, what would you do? 

5. Tell me about the two or three most successful practices or content that you 
remember from the last five years. Where did the practice or content come from? 
How did you hear about it? How did you learn to do it well? How did you decide 
to use it? What need did it fill? 

6. When you attend a professional development session, how do you decide whether 
the suggestion is a good one or not? How do you decide what to adopt? Which 
ones have you used? Which ones are successful? Can you recognize beforehand 
which will be successful? What is unique about some that appear good to you? 
Are there some that you have rejected? 

7. What type of supports do you need to sustain change? Where do these supports 
come from? Are your colleagues helpful? In what ways? How do they know 
you would like help? How do you assist your colleagues? Are parents helpflil? 
In what ways? How do they know you would like help? 

8. How much of what you change is determined by you and your experience and 
how much is determined by outside factors? What are the outside factors? Which 
kind of change is most gratifying? Is there any difference between the two? 

9. How do you know you are succeeding? What do you do if you know that a lesson 
you just taught was great? What do you do if you know that a lesson you just 
taught bombed? 

10. What do you do well as a teacher that you are most proud of? What is most 
satisfying to you as a teacher? 



122 



Appendix C: Pilot Study 2 

Research Question: 

How do veteran teachers respond to the effort of the school to accompHsh its goals for 
change? What are the reasons that veteran teachers give to explain why they choose to 
change? How do they respond to the effort of the school to implement its vision for 
change? What do veteran teachers tell us about the steps they have taken regarding self- 
directed or mandated change? 

1. What is the grade level of your certification? 

2. Do you live in ? 

3. What are the goals of the school for professional development for this year? How 
do you find out about what the goals are? What is your opinion of the focus for 
the year? 

4. What kinds of professional development are offered to achieve the goals of the 
school? 

5. What kinds of professional development do you think is really good? How do 
you decide what to adopt? 

6. What type of supports do you need to sustain change? Where do these supports 
come fi'om? 

7. Are there outside sources of professional development offered to teachers? (Are 
there classes, workshops or seminars available to teachers outside of the offerings 
of the school?) Do you participate in them? Do you know anyone who does? 
What do you know about the quality of the offerings? Are they useful for 
implementing change? 

8. When you are considering change, can you describe the differences or similarities 
between a change in curriculum and a change in teaching practices? 

9. How much of what you change is determined by you and your experience and 
how much is determined by outside factors? What are the outside factors? Which 
kind of change is most gratifying? Are there any differences between the two? 
What is your opinion of mandated change? How do you make it your own? 

10. In what ways does the school make you feel valued? 

1 1 . Why do you want to learn new things? 

12. What is most gratifying to you as a teacher? 



123 



Appendix D: Interview Questions 3 

Research Questions 

How do veteran teachers respond to the effort of the school to accomphsh its goals for 
change? What are the reasons that veteran teachers give to explain why they choose to 
change? How do they respond to the effort of the school to implement its vision for 
change? What do veteran teachers tell us about the steps they have taken regarding self- 
directed or mandated change? 

1. What is the grade level of your certification? 

2. How long have you been at the school? 

3. Do you live in ? 

4. What are the goals of the school for professional development for this year? How 
do you find out about what the goals are? What is your opinion of the focus for 
the year? 

5. What kinds of professional development are offered to achieve the goals of the 
school? 

6. What kinds of professional development do you think are really good? How do 
you decide what to adopt? 

7. What type of supports do you need to implement and sustain change? Where do 
these supports come from? 

8. Are there outside sources of professional development offered to teachers? (Are 
there classes, workshops or seminars available to teachers outside of the offerings 
of the school?) Do you participate in them? Do you know anyone who does? 
What do you know about the quality of the offerings? Are they usefial for 
implementing change? 

9. When you are considering change, can you describe the differences or similarities 
between a change in curriculum and a change in teaching practices? 

10. How much of what you change is determined by you and your experience and 
how much is determined by outside factors? What are the outside factors? Which 
kind of change is most gratifying? Are there any differences between the two? 
What is your opinion of mandated change? How do you make it your own? 

1 1 . How do the Cluster teams help you to make changes in your practice? 

12. In what ways does the school make you feel valued? 

13. Why do you want to learn new things? 

14. What is most gratifying to you as a teacher? 

15. If you were the emperor of the world, what would you change about the reform 
effort and the professional development that is being offered to you? 



124 



Appendix E: Second Interview Questions: 

1. What is the overriding major goal of the school for all the professional 
development? 

2. What does the school hope to accomplish with its professional development? 

3. What is your goal for professional development? 

4. What mandated change(s) did you implement during this school year? 

5 . How do you adjust to mandated change? 

6. How do you make mandated change your own? 

7. How are you dealing with technology as a mandated change? 

8. What do you need to make mandated change more effective for you? 

9. What is the reason that the school decided to divide the students and teachers into 
Clusters? 

10. What would you like to see modified to make the Clusters more effective? 

1 1 . How have you changed? How have the mandated initiatives helped you? 

12. If you were in charge of the education reform effort, what would you do? 

13. What do you do at school in addition to your teaching? 

The questions listed below are reminders to ask for additional clarification from the 
following people because the original interview data was thin. 
L: How do Clusters help? 
C: How do Clusters help? 
A: How do Clusters help? 

What kind of professional development do you prefer? 

Do you live in ? 

L: How do you handle mandated change? 

What kind of professional development do you prefer? 
F: How do you handle mandated change? 
M: What kind of professional development do you prefer? 
J: What other sources of professional development are available to you? 



125 



Appendix F: Interview Questions for Curriculum Coordinator 

Research Question: 

How do veteran teachers respond to the effort of the school to accomplish its goals for 
change? What are the reasons that veteran teachers give to explain why they choose to 
change? How do they respond to the effort of the school to implement its vision for 
change? What do veteran teachers tell us about the steps they have taken regarding self- 
directed or mandated change? 

1 . What are the goals of the school for professional development for this year? 

2. What is your input in determining the goals for the year? 

3 . Did you change any of the plans for the year that were made before you 
started? 

4. How do you publicize the goals to the teachers? 

5. What kinds of professional development are offered to achieve the goals of 
the school? 

6. What kinds of professional development do you think are really effective? 

7. How much of what is offered is implemented by the teachers? 

8. What type of supports do the teachers need to implement or sustain change? 
Where do these supports come from? 

9. Are there outside sources of professional development offered to teachers? 
(Are there classes, workshops or seminars available to teachers outside of the 
offerings of the school?) Do the teachers take advantage of them? Are they 
helpful in teacher implementation of change 

10. Is the cluster system an effective type of school organization? Do teachers 
support each other in the cluster arrangement? Is change implemented and 
supported by the clusters? 

11 . Is there much of a difference in teacher attitude between change determined 
by teacher needs and change that is mandated by the system? How do 
teachers make mandated change their own? 

12. In what ways does the school show teachers that they are valued? 

13. Why do you think teachers want to learn new things? 

14. What do you think is most gratifying to teachers? 

15. What have you found to be most gratifying in this position? 



126 



Appendix G: Interview questions for Principal 

Research Question: 

How do veteran teachers respond to the effort of the school to accompHsh its goals for 
change? What are the reasons that veteran teachers give to explain why they choose to 
change? How do they respond to the effort of the school to implement its vision for 
change? What do veteran teachers tell us about the steps they have taken regarding self- 
directed or mandated change? 

1 . What are the goals of the school for professional development for this year 

2. What is your input in determining the goals for the year? 

3 . Did you change any of the plans for the year that were made before you 
started? 

4. How do you publicize the goals to the teachers? 

5. What kinds of professional development are offered to achieve the goals of 
the school? 

6. What kinds of professional development do you think are really effective? 

7. How much of what is offered is implemented by the teachers? 

8. What type of supports do the teachers need to implement or sustain change? 
Where do these supports come from? 

9. Are there outside sources of professional development offered to teachers? 
(Are there classes, workshops or seminars available to teachers outside of the 
offerings of the school?) Do the teachers take advantage of them? Are they 
helpful in teacher implementation of change 

10. Is the cluster system an effective type of school organization? Do teachers 
support each other in the cluster arrangement? Is change implemented and 
supported by the clusters? 

11. Is there much of a difference in teacher attitude between change determined 
by teacher needs and change that is mandated by the system? How do 
teachers make mandated change their own? 

12. In what ways does the school show teachers that they are valued? 

13. Why do you think teachers want to learn new things? 

14. What do you think is most gratifying to teachers? 



127 



Appendix H: Second Interview Questions for the Curriculum Coordinator 

1 . What is the major goal of the district for professional development? 

2. What are the schools trying to accomplish? 

3 . Are those goals communicated to the teadhers? 

4. During the school year, what mandated changes were implemented? 

5. How do the teachers respond to the mandated initiatives? 

6. What do the teachers do with the changes that are mandated to make them their 
own? 

7. How do teachers generally do with technology, as an example of mandated 
change? 

8. How do you influence teachers to move a little bit faster? 

9. Why were clusters instituted? 

10. What would you like to see modified in order for teams to be more effective? 

11. If you were in charge of the educational reform effort, what would you do 
differently? 



128 



Appendix I: Second interview questions for the Principal: 

1. Do you live in 



2. What did you do before becoming a school principal? 

3. What is your level of certification? 

4. What do teachers think is the overarching goal of professional development? 

5. How are teachers in the school shown that they are valued? 

6. Are there any new mandated changes that will be implemented this school year? 
What training will, or did, the teachers receive? What supports are available for 
the teachers? Are any being phased out? How do you know if the initiative are 
successful? How do the teachers know? If they do not like the program because 
it does not meet their classroom needs, how do they communicate that to you? 

7. Are any teacher designed programs being implemented by more than the 
teacher/designer? 

8. When does Turning Point work start? 

9. Will there be an expanded role for the clusters? 

10. Do many teachers visit other classes during the school year? 

1 1 . How is it decided who will facilitate a club? Is it a requirement? What is the 
expectation of teachers? Is there a stipend for chairing a club? 

12. Are you making any major changes in the school reform effort this year based on 
you experiences last year? 

13. What would you like to change most at the school? What do you think the school 
needs most? 

14. What was an important lesson you learned last year regarding the selection, 
training and implementation of reform initiatives? What will you do about it this 
year? 

15. What percent of the faculty can you rely on to support you in the change effort? 

16. How do you deal with a resistant teacher? What do you do with a teacher who 
devotes a lot of time to the school, but not necessarily in the areas of the reform 
mandates that you or the district have chosen? 



129 



Appendix J: Dissertation Study Timeline 

Event Dates 



Teacher Questionnaire 
Pilot Study I 
Pilot Study n 
Teacher Interviews 
Curr. Coor. Interview 
Princ. Interview 
Second Interviews 



October, 2001 
December, 2001 
March, 2002 
April-May, 2002 
April, 2002 
March, 2002 
June, 2002 



Curr. Coor, Second Interv. June, 2002 
Principal Second Interv. Sept, 2002 



People Involved 

Entire faculty, at a Staff Mtg. 

Teachers E, J, L, individually 

Teachers A F, individually 

Teachers B, C, D, G, M, individually 

Teacher N 

Teacher O 

All teachers interviewed, 
individually 

Teacher N 

Teacher O 



130 



Appendix K: Middle School Interviewees 



Teacher 



Subject Grade 



Town Resident 



Gender 



Student Teacher 



Years Teaching 



Certification 



Years at School 



Cluster Leader 



A 


Reading, 8 


M 


34 


12 




Earlier 


No 


K-12, Rdg.Spec, 

MS 


No 



B 


Math, 8 


F 


17 


13 




Yes 


Yes 


5-12 


Yes 



C 


Lang. Arts & 
Reading, 6 


F 


30 


20 




Yes 


Yes 


K-8, Rdg & LA 
K-12 


No 



D 


Science, 8 


M 


20 


19 




No 


Yes 


6-12 


No 



E 


World Geography, 
6 


F 


14 


14 




Yes 


Yes 


5-9, 9-12 


Yes 



F 


Language Arts, 6 


F 


33 


15 




Earlier 


No 


7-12 


No 



G 


Science, 7 


M 


30 


10 




No 


Yes 


5-9, 9-12 


Yes 



J 


World 
Geography,6 


F 


15 


10 




Yes 


Yes 


1-6, 5-9 


No 



L 


Librarian, 6,7,8 


F 


16 


4 




Earlier 


Yes 


K-12 


Yes 



M 


Art, 6,7,8 


F 


29 


29 




No 


No 


K-12 


No 



N 


Math/ Science 
Curr. Coor. 


F 


24 


15 




No 


No 


6-9, 9-12 


No 






Principal 


F 


30 


1 




Yes 


No 


K-8, Princ. K-5, 
5-9 


No 



131 



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